Mayor: Fire that engulfed several buildings under control

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PASSAIC, N.J. (AP) — A massive blaze that apparently started at a church and ripped through several buildings in northern New Jersey forced several people from their homes before the flames were brought under control late Sunday night.

No injuries were reported hours after the fire began as fire crews continued to snuff out the flames.

Passaic Mayor Alex Blanco said the fire appeared to start in the alley of a church on Columbia Avenue in the city of about 71,000. It quickly spread to nearby buildings.

Blanco said two residential buildings and two garages were ignited by the inferno. Police said at least one church and a three-story apartment building were involved.

"It was a terrifying scene, nightmarish. Flames all over," Blanco told WCBS. "It's probably going to be characterized as one of the biggest fires here."

About 80 people were displaced, the mayor said. They were directed to St. Nicholas Church and a senior center.

The mayor said crews were able to bring the flames under control by about 11 p.m. Sunday.

Fire officials were investigating what caused the blaze. Neither police nor fire officials provided further details.

After the fire broke out, Route 21 was closed in both directions near a Clifton exit.

Passaic is about 10 miles north of Newark.

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