TARIQ ZEHAWI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Englewood firefighter Kevin Wilson at the scene of the fire at his home.
ENGLEWOOD – An on-duty city firefighter could do little more than watch as his home went up in flames Thursday.
Kevin Wilson was one of several firefighters who responded to a blaze that was reported shortly before 2 p.m. at 328 West Palisade Avenue Thursday – seemingly just a normal day on the job, except that now it was his own home he was being asked to protect.
“You never expect to roll out and see that you are actually going to your house to put out a fire,” Wilson said, speaking just feet from where firefighters still worked to tamp down the blaze Thursday.<!–more–>
Wilson initially was among those firefighters, remaining at his post until he was released from duty by Fire Chief Gerald Marion. On Thursday afternoon, he remained at the scene, speaking to firefighters and community members, many of whom expressed their sympathy for his plight.
“To his credit, he was standing by his duties at the pump,” said Marion, who noted that Wilson was the initial pump operator at the scene.
Marion said the fire was caused by an overloaded power strip on the second floor – a common hazard, he said.
“It’s usually a matter not of if, but when, it’s going to ignite,” said Marion.
Wilson lived on the first floor of the two-story home. Tenants lived on the second floor, he said. Wilson said the tenants were home at the time the fire broke out.
Marion said Wilson’s son had also been at home.
Wilson is the stepson of the late Jack Drakeford, a longtime councilman whose 50-year career in public service began as one of the city’s first black firefighters.
Firefighters from several towns, including Bergenfield, Teaneck, Tenafly and Hackensack, responded to the three-alarm blaze. One firefighter suffered minor burns to his head and hands, Marion said.
A cat also perished, he said.
The home, which sustained heavy damage, has been declared uninhabitable. The house next door at 330 West Palisade Ave. has also been deemed uninhabitable due to exterior and electrical damage, said Marion.
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