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‘Praying No One Was In There’: Fire Destroys Abandoned Passaic Home, Squatter Search Continues

Main Avenue and Temple Place, Passaic
Main Avenue and Temple Place, Passaic Photo Credit: Passaic Mayor Hector Carlos Lora

Authorities were hoping no squatters were inside a vacant Passaic home destroyed by fire on Wednesday.

“The property was abandoned,” Mayor Hector Carlos Lora said after firefighters doused the blaze at Main Avenue and Temple Place. “However we are investigating and still searching to confirm whether it was empty.

“I am praying no one was in there.”

Flames were blowing through the roof of the dilapidated 2½-story home when firefighters arrived shortly after 7 a.m.

They were forced into an exterior attack right from the jump, as the roof, floors and exterior sections began to fall in.

Fire Chief Patrick Trentacost’s department, assisted by companies from neighboring towns, had the blaze under control within an hour.

What little was left must be bulldozed as a search continued.

The curse of abandoned buildings isn’t just the blight but also the danger, said Lora, the mayor.

“I am thankful to God that no firefighter or police officer was hurt,” he said. “I also feel strongly that the state, our courts and our banks must do more to empower and support municipalities in addressing abandoned properties that have been on the market for years.

“When the city cannot act quickly to address blighted areas, abandoned properties, vandalism and other crimes, fires and unfortunately tragic incidents are more likely to occur,” Lora said.

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