Firefighters rescue WNY residents trapped in elevator during electrical fire

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North Hudson Regional Fire & Rescue, West New York police and PSE&G all had a busy day in town yesterday as salt brine and melting snow cause a number of electrical fires, one of which that disabled that left Riviera Towers residents trapped inside an elevator.

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At least five firetrucks and over a dozen firefighters congregated outside of the Riviera Towers, located at 6040 John F. Kennedy Boulevard East, yesterday afternoon around 2:30 p.m. as PSE&G workers entered the sewer through a manhole.

A heavy odor of burning emanated through the air as a light, white smoke emanated from a nearby sewer grate.

Firefighters on the scene told Hudson County View that underground transformers typically short circuit, explode and experience other operational issues after a heavy snowfall when water and salt brine melt into the sewer grates.

West New York Police stationed officers, around the intersection of 61st Street and Boulevard East, as well as the intersection of Monitor and Westover Places, to navigate traffic as firefighters and PSE&G worked on the transformer issues.

NHRF&R Chief Frank Montagne told us that burning electrical equipment underground disabled power, leaving several people, with no exact number immediately available, trapped inside an elevator at about 2:12 p.m.

The residents were rescued by NHRF&R and officials left the same an hour later at 3:12 p.m., Montagne said.

Less than an hour prior, a telephone pole caught on fire around the area of 61st Street and Park Avenue and an underground explosion occurred near 64th Street and Bergenline Avenue.

A charred utility pole near the intersection of 61st Street and Park Avenue moments after an electrical fire was extinguished.
A charred utility pole near the intersection of 61st Street and Park Avenue moments after an electrical fire was extinguished.