Wind-driven flames engulf home, quickly spread across buildings in Newark

Firefighters in Essex County dealt with a difficult fire Tuesday morning, as wind-driven flames engulfed a two-story house in Newark, before quickly spreading to four adjacent buildings.  
Firefighters were called just after 2:30 a.m. in a two-story house at 218 Fairmount Ave. Buildings on each side were also damaged. Inside the home was a 75-year-old man.
“I was asking the policeman, 'Did the older guy come out of the building? Because he lives there by himself,'” says Swanetta Mccall. “He said they got everyone out and I said, 'But he lives there by himself, are you sure he got out?' so as I walked across the street, I saw him, so I felt better."
Fire Chief Rufus Jackson says the man lives alone in the home where the fire started.
“He smelled smoke, got up to investigate and once he determined it was a fire, he was able to get out safely,” says Jackson.
Many are crediting working smoke alarms for everyone getting out safely.
“We heard a fire alarm, and we were like what’s going on? Probably something is burning, but nobody would be cooking around that time. So, we just stood up and tried to figure out what happened, and we just tried to peek through the window to see what’s going on - and we saw the smoke outside the building,” says Mccall.
The chief says they still do not know how or where the fire began, but that part of the investigation will get underway soon. He also acknowledges said they are fortunate it did not start several hours earlier when the winds would've made it much more difficult.
The Red Cross is assisting 27 people from eight families after the fire forced the evacuation of six apartments on each side of the home.
There are no reports of any injuries.