Hot comb causes two-alarm fire within township

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IRVINGTON, NJ — With Thanksgiving approaching, one thing many people are thankful for is a roof over their head. Countless residents are left homeless during the cold and flu season for a variety of reasons, including financial woes and house fires. Unfortunately, the latter became a harsh reality for the occupants of one Irvington home.

On Nov. 10, extensive flames engulfed the upper floor of the three-story house at 1233 Clinton Ave. in Irvington. The fire, which was reported that evening, seemed as if it had emerged from the apartment on the second floor but quickly extended to the third floor, with flames pouring from the windows and tearing through the structure’s roof. According to an investigation at the scene, the source of the burning inferno was an unattended hot comb.

Irvington Mayor Tony Vauss discussed what occurred that evening, indicating how quickly a fire can intensify. With house fires such as this, time can make all the difference in the world.

“At 4:05 p.m., we received a call reporting an apartment fire at 1233 Clinton Ave.,” Vauss said in a statement sent on Nov. 12. “At the time of our arrival, we found an occupied three-story wood-frame dwelling with moderate smoke condition showing from the second floor. Soon after, the fire rapidly intensified and extended to the third floor. A second-alarm was transmitted, bringing assistance from Maplewood, East Orange, Orange, West Orange and Newark.”

Though the raging flames required assistance from surrounding towns, thankfully no one was seriously harmed.

“One occupant was treated and released by EMS at the scene after suffering smoke inhalation,” Vauss said. “During the course of the fire, three firefighters suffered non–life-threatening injuries. Two were transported to St. Barnabas and Beth Israel, while the other was treated and released at the scene.”

According to fire investigators, this accidental fire could have been prevented, and it is lucky that no one was seriously injured.

“Damage to the structure was extensive and the cause was under investigation,” Vauss said. “This was an accidental fire caused by someone leaving a hot comb on the bed unattended. A total of six adults were displaced and relocated by Red Cross.”

Assisting in the incident was East Orange Fire Chief Andre Williams, who mentioned that house fires are common at this time of year.

“As a mutual-responding agency, I am glad that we were able to assist the Irvington Fire Department in extinguishing the fire and minimizing extensive injuries to the home’s occupants,” Williams said on Nov. 16. “This is typically the time of year that we see an onset of fires, and with more people being home due to COVID-19, ongoing education is especially critical to increasing fire safety inside and outside of the home.” For fire safety education and tips, visit

Photos Courtesy of Tony Vauss