|Firefighter John A. Nicosia (1962-1991)|
"We're talking about a major disaster here."
That's how Paterson Mayor William J. Pascrell Jr. described the inferno that claimed the life of a city firefighter on Jan. 17, 1991 at 161 Main Street - the building that once housed Meyer Brothers department store.
The body of John A. Nicosia, 28, a member of Engine 4, was recovered two days later.
From the old department store, "the fire spread to a second building and there was a minor blow-out of windows and a large ball of fire," according to the U.S. Fire Administration. "There was a roll call and head count taken at this time and it was determined that Firefighter Nicosia was missing.
"Search and rescue procedures began immediately. The search continued for two days until Firefighter Nicosia's body was found in the basement of the initial structure."
Nicosia was honored on the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
The New York Times - Jan. 18, 1991