Flames broke out about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at The Avalon at Edgewater, a four-story apartment building in the small New Jersey town just across the Hudson River from Manhattan, and raged into the night.
No one was hurt, but homes were destroyed and now families — many of which have children — do not have the basic necessities.
The American Red Cross and Edgewater city agencies have opened the Edgewater Community Center, located at 1167 River Road (map), to displaced residents.
That includes about 240 families who lived in the now-charred complex, and about 168 families evacuated from a nearby complex.
Diane Concannon, spokeswoman for the American Red Cross, said most of those residents were insured and the next major project is to secure housing for those families. She said many have children that need to stay in the district for school.
Dozens of families are staying at the Comfort Inn at 725 River Road in Edgewater. To donate clothing, food or funds to their relief, call the hotel at 201-943-3131.
Displaced residents can take their pets to the American Legion, which has been turned into a temporary shelter by the Bergen County Humane Society, the Red Cross said.