A new Hoboken group has formed in the hopes of memorializing the arson fire victims who unexpectedly and tragically lost their lives in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
A group of residents have formed to launch the Hoboken Fire Victims Memorial Project, founded in 2018 by Rose Orozco. She is a retired nurse who lived and worked in Hoboken through the tumultuous years of the fires.
“On any given night, a fire could erupt engulfing the entire building in flames, killing those who were sleeping. Those Hoboken residents who perished and the thousands affected should be remembered,” she said in a statement.
In the late 1970’s into the early 1980’s, hundreds of arson fires occurred across the Mile Square City, where 55 residents were killed and thousands more were made homeless, as The Washington Post reported.
Many of these fires began in the early hours before dawn while building residents slept. The vast majority of the victims were Hispanic women and children.
In one arson incident alone, on January 2nd, 1979, 21 people died at 131 Clinton St.
Those responsible for the the fires were never convicted and numerous fire victims were not named in news accounts at the time.
The Hoboken Fire Victims Memorial Project will work to identify the names of the victims of the fires and start efforts toward creating a memorial in Hoboken.
Family members who lost a loved one are invited to express their thoughts on the Hoboken Fire Victims Memorial Project Facebook page.
As of now, the memorial project committee consists of Orozco, retired Hoboken Fire Capt. Tommy Molta, All Saints Episcopal Parish Rector Elaine Ellis Thomas, Hoboken Oral History Project editor Holly Metz, Council President Jen Giattino and Roman Brice, the editor of Hobokenhorse.com.