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High Street Apartment Fire Damages 2 Units

A closet fire in a High Street apartment building Wednesday caused major damage to two units and forced the evacuation of the building.

A fire that started in the closet of a second floor Eldorado Village apartment on High Street Wednesday morning destroyed two units and forced the evacuation of the building, Fair Lawn Deputy Fire Chief Kirk Wolthouse said.

The apartment's two tenants, who were home when the blaze broke out, were unharmed, he said. One tenant was already outside when the fire department arrived. The other tenant -- who was still inside frantically gathering his belongings and medication when help arrived -- was escorted out by police and firefighters, Wolthouse said.

The H building's nine apartments were all evacuated while firefighters fought the blaze, which started shortly before 8 a.m. The fire burned from the second floor closet up to the closet of a vacant third floor unit directly above it, and also into the main dwelling of each unit, Wolthouse said. 

He said the second and third floor apartments suffered "major structural damage," because firefighters were forced to pull down the second and third floor ceilings to fight the fire after it got into the floor joists. 

The rest of the H Building's apartment units escaped with only smoke and/or water damage, and are habitable, Wolthouse said. The tenants who lived in the second floor apartment where the fire started will likely stay with their adult daughter until they can find permanent lodging, he said.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but it is not considered suspicious, fire marshal Jay Bender said. Wolthouse would not speculate on what may have caused the fire, but said the closet where it started was not wired for electricity.

The Elmwood Park and Saddle Brook fire departments stood by to cover the rest of the borough while Fair Lawn firefighters battled Wednesday's blaze. 

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