TOTOWA – Although authorities are still investigating the cause of a fire that gutted the attic of a one story home at 51 Norwood Terrace Monday afternoon, a woman who lives in the home blames the fire on a candle she left unattended.
The call came in at 3:43 p.m. and when firefighters arrived, they encountered “heavy smoke” that was billowing out of the attic, Fire Chief Vincent Marciano said.
“It was puffing through the eves and through the upper window,” he said. Totowa, Woodland Park, Little Falls and Cedar Grove firefighters extinguished the blaze in 35 to 40 minutes, Marciano said. And they declared the fire under control at 4:52 p.m., he said.
Cindy Sanes, 53, who lives in the home with her husband Francisco Sanes, 68, said she was organizing materials in her attic and accidentally left a scented candle burning when she left to take a break. She said she was using the candle to cover up the smell of mold. When she returned to her home, she saw the smoke.
“I was walking up from my girl friend’s house. She said ‘Where’s that smoke coming from.’ I said ‘My house.’ I called 9-1-1. In a matter of minutes they (authorities) were here,” Sanes said.
Luis Martinez, 43, lives at 57 Norwood Terrace and came outside when his wife said there was a fire. He saw a woman unsuccessfully try to extinguish the fire with a garden hose.
“I saw a lady with a garden hose and that’s when the fire trucks got here,” he said.
While fighting the blaze, firefighters coped with the heat by working in shifts.
“We switched out a lot of guys because of the heat,” Marciano said.
After the fire was extinguished, firefighters could be seen widening the attic window with an electric saw and a sledgehammer. Marciano explained that they had to remove items from the attic to ensure the fire was out.
Fransisco Sanes looked on as firefighters hammered through his attic.
“It looks like a wreck,” he said.
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