The cold weather and constant stream of water left everything in the area covered in a thick layer of ice, including hydrants, radios and the firefighters themselves.
The fire burned through three buildings on 19th Street in Union City, and firefighters were working hard to keep it from spreading further to homes on either side.
At least 60 people were forced out of their homes. The Red Cross is on scene assisting with relocation.
It all started around 11:30 p.m. Thursday in the basements of one of the buildings and stubbornly continued to burn for more than six hours.
Everyone got out safely, and no injuries have been reported to residents. Several firefighters had to be treated for frostbite, exhaustion and smoke inhalation.
"Very slippery, it's dangerous conditions," North Hudson Regional Fire Chief Frank Montagne said. "The fire escapes, the ladders, everything we touch freezes. Our microphones, our radios are frozen. That's the conditions. We know it, we expect it, we prepare for it."
Fire officials say the blaze was not reported as quickly as it should have been, which prevented them from containing the flames to the original building.