MILLVILLE — Ten people were left homeless when a fast-spreading fire destroyed their home in the 100 block of Cedar Street early Thursday morning.
Five of the residents were at home and fled the building after the blaze broke out shortly before 2:30 a.m., according to fire officials and neighbors.
There were no injuries, said Fire Department Capt. Michael Lippincott. The American Red Cross was providing temporary shelter for the 10 residents, he said.
Authorities were still investigating the cause of the fire, he said.
None of the residents — who lived in four separate units in the building — could be reached for comment.
Annie Evans, who lives next door, said she was awoken by the sound of police officers and firefighters and the flashing of lights from emergency equipment. She said she looked through a window and saw people from a second-floor unit run down a back stairway and past the house to get to Cedar Street.
“I thought I was dreaming,” she said.
Cathy Jensen, who lives about two blocks away on Race Street, said she saw smoke, illuminated by flames, rising from the building. Police blocked access to part of Cedar Street, prompting motorists to use the Race Street cul-de-sac as a place to turn around and leave the scene, she said.
Jensen stood on Cedar Street about noon Thursday, looking sadly at the remains of the building.
“They lost everything,” she said of the residents. “It’s so sad.”
Jensen recalled losing all her possessions when fire destroyed her home on Ridge Street here about 30 years ago. She said members of the community pitched in to her and her family.
Jensen said she now wants to try to collect clothes for the residents who lost their homes to the fire.
“I just want to help,” she said.
Lippincott said the first fire units were sent to Cedar Street at 2:33 a.m. They remained on the scene until nearly 9 a.m., he said.
In between, Lippincott said, firefighters had to battle chilly winds and freezing temperatures.
“Conditions were tough with the wind,” he said. “Everything that water hit iced up, including firefighters and equipment. It was pretty rough.”
As late as 1 p.m. Thursday, ice still hung from utility lines leading to the house. A broken tree branch lying on the ground remained covered in ice.
Lippincott said firefighter crews were rotated to give those on the scene a break from the cold and icy conditions. The Red Cross arrived with hot coffee and other items for firefighters, he said.
One unit each from fire companies in Vineland and Rosenhayn in Deerfield Township also were on scene, Lippincott said. Those units arrived to make it easier to rotate the firefighting crews out of the weather, he said.
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