An early-morning fire today at the Red Bank Public Library was quickly extinguished and left no adverse effects on the extensive $1.2 million remodeling job now nearing completion, borough officials say.


Fire Marshal Stanley Sickels tells redbankgreen that the fire had clearly smoldered “for hours” before it was spotted at 1:53a by police Sgt. Michael Frazee, who smelled smoke in the vicinity of the historic West Front Street structure.

About 15 firefighters from all six volunteer companies in town responded and found a fire confined to a two-foot-square area of the roof atop the single-story 1960s wing of the library, according to deputy borough clerk Pamela Hughes Borghi.

The fire was extinguished in under an hour. There was no resulting damage to the interior of the building, Sickels says.

“It was on a part of the roof near the metal canopy at the entrance, so if you were under the canopy, you were right under it,” Sickels says.

The cause of the fire is unknown — there was no electrical wiring or equipment in the vicinity, and no immediate indication of arson, Sickels says. Investigators are trying to determine if workers had been on the roof during the day, he said.

But while the cause is unknown, there’s little question that the library, already beset by construction delays, dodged a bullet, avoiding any smoke, fire or water damage. According to Sickels, firefighters used portable extinguishers to quell the flames.

“I think we used five gallons of water on it, total,” says Sickels.

The library has been operating out of temporary quarters at the corner of West Front and Maple Avenue as renovations of both the 1960s section and the original Eisner mansion are underway. The older section of the structure is being restored in exacting historical details.

“We really were very lucky,” says Library Director Deborah Griffin-Sadel. “Thank god it wasn’t in the old house.”

Among the improvements to the building: the installation of a fire-suppression system.

Griffin-Sadel she’s still shooting for an October re-opening, a target that’s unchanged after yesterday’s scare.

“But all it takes is one little thing” to throw off the schedule, she says.

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