Quick work by the Boonton Fire Department saved a multifamily home from more serious damage due to a fire Tuesday afternoon.
The cause of the fire is believed to be accidental and may have been started by someone smoking outside on the second-story porch, Boonton Fire Chief Eric Joinson said.
"It started on the front deck on the second floor, and got up into the attic," Joinson said. "Unfortunately it displaced two families."
Those families are receiving aid from the Red Cross, Joinson said.
William Vincent and his brother, Joseph Benenato, were the only ones home at the time of the fire, in the second-floor unit they shared with four extended family members.
"I smelled burning a little bit and I thought the people next door were burning in their fire pit," said Vincent, who arrived home just before the fire broke out.
When they discovered the fire was on their floor, "We both ran outside and the roof was on fire, the middle of the house was on fire and the fire was falling own on top of us."
As they ran out, Vincent said he stopped to bang on the door of the first-floor apartment "to make sure nobody was there."
The quick response helped limit the damage.
"We are a pretty aggressive fire department and got water on the fire pretty quickly," Joinson said. "It is not occupiable right now but as soon as they get the electrical straightened out, they should be able to get back in. They're going to have to board up windows and patch the roof, but as soon as they get heat and everything back, on, they should be OK."
Vincent and his family members are staying with different friends and relatives. It could take up to four months to reoccupy, he said the Red Cross told him.
Benato said he is looking to set up an online fundraiser to help the family.
"Unfortunately I'm not well," Vincent said. "I just got off dialysis a month ago and cannot work."
The family is "extremely grateful for everything the community has given us," Benato said. "People are donating clothes and things. Unfortunately, we don't have anywhere to put it. We have other family members who are sick and rely on oxygen, so we're really just trying to get into a new place as soon as possible."
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The department responded to an alarm at 2:50 p.m. and the fire was brought under control in about 10 minutes from dispatch, a department release states. Units and mutual aid departments operated for about 90 minutes before returning to service.
The two-alarm fire summoned aid from Boonton Township, Parsippany, Lake Hiawatha, Mount Tabor, Montville, Pine Brook, Denville, Morris County OEM and Saint Clare's EMS.
William Westhoven is a local reporter for DailyRecord.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
This article originally appeared on Morristown Daily Record: Smoking possibly started Boonton house fire, chief says