UPDATE: Mother of Six Displaced by Fire -- on PIX News
As featured on WPIX News, a single mom with six children was forced to evacuate her home on Sunday night, after a fire destroyed all of her belongings.
A single mom with six children was forced to vacate her home on Sunday after a fire at 5 Ella Street rendered her home “uninhabitable.”
“Everything’s gone,” said Norma Coppedge in dismay, staring at the charred façade of the house while her children wandered on the sidewalk nearby. “People are saying it will be a couple of months till we can go back home.”
The fire began at about 5:50 pm on the second floor of a multi-family home at Watsessing Street and Ella Avenue, when residents noticed flames coming up through the walls of the house.
“We were in the house having a birthday party when all of a sudden we smelled smoke,” recalled Tishobia Porcha, a visiting relative. “At first we didn’t think it was anything but then we saw the window ledge was on fire. We tried to pour water on it but it got worse. The flames were going up the walls and up the steps. We couldn’t grab anything, we just ran.”
“The flames were coming up on the windowsill,” concurred Ethan Jones, whose son, Noir, was celebrating his third birthday. “I said, ‘we better get out of here!’ Everybody got out.”
No injuries were reported from the blaze.
“They’re saying it was an electrical fire because of how it started in the walls,” said Lisa Knowles, a 4-year resident who lived in another unit of the house with her father. Fighting tears, she lit up a cigarette. “My cat’s gone. I have no idea where she is. She just bolted.”
By all accounts, the Fire Department arrived at the scene quickly and extinguished the blaze before extensive damage was done. "It seems like we were still on the phone with them and they were already here," said Jones. From the street, only one patch of the house's exterior walls was visibly burned.
Coppedge’s mother, Kathleen, a nurse who works at the Park Crescent Nursing Home in East Orange, said she doesn’t know what her daughter will do without a home or any of her belongings. “She’ll have to come to stay at my house,” she said. “She has six children.” The children are aged 18, 14, 10, 6, 3 and 1.
At the scene, Bloomfield Fire Department Captain Torrisi said Coppedge had been advised to call the Fire Prevention Department on Monday morning. “They can answer all her questions [about emergency accommodation],” he said. He confirmed that the house was “uninhabitable.”
“At first the kids were crying but they’re okay now,” said Coppedge. “[The fire department] let us go back in and get some stuff. I couldn’t even get baby diapers. I was just able to get some shoes for me and get my pocketbook and phone.”
UPDATE: Bloomfield Chief Fire Inspector Samuel Infante informed Patch this afternoon that the cause of the fire was not electrical.
"There is no electricity in that wall," said Infante via phone interview. "We're still conducting the investigation. The cause is undetermined as of now."
Infante said firefighters had to remove a window, pull out most of the third floor ceiling, and tear off siding from the house's exterior walls. "We took out a whole window that was melted," he said.
As for when Colledge could move back in, Infante said it was up to her landlord.
"The landlord is responsible for repairs to the building and cleaning the place up," he said. "PSE&G has to come turn the gas back on, which we turned off as a precaution."
Colledge told Patch that, as of Monday afternoon, she had not yet reached out to the Bloomfield Fire Prevention Department aid bureau for assistance.
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