EDGEWATER, N.J. -- Flames roared at their backs as some children jumped and others were rescued from a second-floor fire escape Monday night during a roaring blaze that blew through an Edgewater building.
A group of men with ladders rushed to help get the girls and an adult out of the second-floor Pro Arts Academy Dance Studio on River Road while other youngsters jumped into their arms or fell to the ground, video shows.
The children were coming down a ladder when it suddenly slipped and fell, forcing others to jump as the blaze drew closer.
Five people were hospitalized with injuries that authorities said weren't life-threatening.
“Thank God nobody was dead,” Ilker Kesiktas, one of the rescuer, told CBS2 News. “That was our only concern, little injuries....[We] care about the lives of those kids.”
Edgewater Police Sgt. James Dalton and Tony Nehmi -- who owns Edgewater Wine & Spirits -- climbed a ladder and broke a window to get to the youngsters.
"The flames were spreading so fast," Nehmi told Nj.com. "I only had a couple of seconds to save them. There was no time."
“We couldn’t do it quick enough,” Dalton told CBS2. “Once we got them out they told us they were the last two people in there. Big sigh of relief.”
The four-alarm, gas-fed fire began around 6:45 p.m. in Beyoglu, a restaurant and hookah lounge in a building that also houses a body shop, car wash and spa -- part of a string of businesses along the street, responders said.
Flames spread through the cockloft -- then jumped to the Palisades, forcing the evacuation of at least two high rises on Gorge Road in Cliffside Park.
Companies from towns as far as Fair Lawn and Wyckoff were requested. PSE&G was summoned to shut the line to the gas feeding the fire.
Meanwhile, firefighters with ladder trucks surrounded what was left of the blaze, while others extinguished pockets along the cliffs before extinguishing the blaze around 8:30 p.m.
It was officially declared out about an hour and 15 minutes later, nearly three hours after it began.
The cause wasn't immediately determined.
The Bergen County Sheriff's Bureau of Criminal Identification collected evidence.
Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco and Sheriff Michael Saudino joined Mayor Michael McPartland and Edgewater Fire Chief Steven Curry at the scene.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Daily Voice obtained a copy of the graphic --and what some might consider troubling -- video of children jumping and being rescued from the fire. We chose to use a still image from the video instead. If you wish to view the video, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uy82AUEV-Yk
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