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Fire Rips Through Businesses, Apartments In Irvington

IRVINGTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- It took firefighters about four hours to get the upper hand on a fire that swept through businesses and apartments in Irvington.

Firefighters faced bitter cold temperatures and strong winds when they responded to the blaze on Florence Avenue around 2 a.m. Wednesday.

"Hindered a little bit by the icing conditions due to the extremely cold weather," Irvington Fire Chief John Tierney said. "The tripping and falling hazards, it definitely gives us a problem."

The four-alarm fire started in the Headquarters Bar & Grill and flames spread quickly to a salon, deli, barber shop, real estate office and five apartments, 1010 WINS' Glenn Schuck reported.

About 10 residents who live in the apartments above the businesses made it out safely on their own before firefighters arrived on the scene, CBS2's Janelle Burrell reported.

"A big explosion, like a boom sound," said Barry McMillan. "And you could see the flames rising and rising."

"The wind does cause a problem, causes the fire to flare up and the fire to push a little bit," Tierney said.

One man said he got out with his family but had to leave his cat behind. He was elated when he later saw a firefighter come out of the building with his cat in a bucket.

"I cried for her, this is my cat," resident Paul Campos said after being reunited with his cat. "Now I'm happy, I have my family and my pet."

Campos, like many of his neighbors, left with only the clothes they had been sleeping in. The displaced residents are being cared for by the American Red Cross.

Two firefighters sustained minor injuries related to the weather. One firefighter suffered a severe back injury after falling on ice, another was treated for frostbite to his hands, Burrell reported.

Survivors may have lost their possessions, but they remain grateful.

"I'm blessed. I'm alive, breathing, so that's a good thing" McMillan said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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