On March 4, 2017, North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue Department responded to a building fire in Union City on Summit Avenue. On arrival, companies encountered heavy fire in a three-story frame building with people trapped and fire extending into exposure B, an attached two-story frame. A third alarm was requested. With heavy fire conditions all members were withdrawn from the building and exterior lines were set up. High winds sent brands threatening other structures. Approximately 30 minutes into the fire, residents started alerting firefighters of a fire involving the Saints Joseph and Michael Catholic Church one block to the east. Heavy fire was showing from the main steeple of the 100-plus-year-old heavy timber church. A separate box was transmitted and as companies arrived a collapse zone was set up and companies worked on protecting exposures. Within an hour the steeple collapsed into the street taking down numerous electrical lines. Ultimately both fires went to four alarms, mutual aid companies from numerous departments in the area, as well as a task force from FDNY, responded. The two original buildings were destroyed and the church suffered extensive damage, several residents were injured and, sadly, a two-year-old boy was trapped and lost his life and his father suffered critical burn injuries. Several firefighters also suffered minor injuries, the cause of the original fire was under investigation.          

– Fire News photos by Peter Danzo and Mark Rosetti