The wind-whipped fire destroyed some downtown buildings in Wanaque and left many residents without their homes.
At least six families have been dealt a terrible blow, losing almost everything that they own.
The wind played a critical role in how firefighters approached the blaze, especially in their efforts to prevent its spread to other buildings.
"The wind is playing havoc, as you can see, with the smoke coming up," Wanaque police Captain Tom Norton said. "It's going to be a long day...Avenue closed. We're going to have to take this building down, little by little to check for hotspots."
The fire started in the lower level of a store and quickly spread to three other structures.
At its peak, more than 250 firefighters from seven different towns were on the scene.
At this point, no serious injuries were reported. Three people were treated for smoke inhalation, and one firefighter suffered minor injuries.
What's left of buildings destroyed by the fire is already being razed.
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