|Apartment building and TV tower|
On Nov. 8, 1956, a twin-engine aircraft flying in rain and fog clipped a giant television tower in North Bergen and crashed into an apartment building, spewing flaming fuel and scattering parts over several city blocks.
Four people died and 15 others - including a dozen firefighters - were injured, according to the Associated Press.
The pilot and passenger of the plane flying from Indianapolis to New York City were among the fatalities as was a woman who "jumped five stories to the street in panic as the building burst into flames," AP said.
"The impact of the crash shattered a part of the southwest wall of the multiple dwelling and the main portion of the plane was imbedded in the top floor," the magazine Fire Engineering reported. "Ruptured fuel tanks sprayed gasoline over the entire south wall starting a fire that involved that face of the building.
"In addition fire involved the entire top floor and the cockloft," the magazine said.
An aircraft engine hit a garage at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel School, where more than 200 children were in attendance, AP reported. Witness Dorothy Mounet said landing gear "bounced like a basketball behind a moving car."
Fearing the steel latticed 810-foot television tower would collapse, officials evacuated hundreds of homes. Workers secured the tower, which residents - rightfully - considered a hazard. It was eventually removed.
Engine 1, Engine 4, Truck 1 and the emergency squad responded on the first alarm at Box 415 at 77th and Broadway. Upon arrival, Acting Deputy Chief Theodore Fletcher ordered a general alarm, including mutual aid from neighboring cities to fight the fire and fill in North Bergen's fire stations.