RUMSON: FIREFIGHTER’S VIEW OF BLAZE

Here’s a Sea Bright firefighter’s view, courtesy of a helmet-mounted camera, of Monday’s fire at the Rumson mansion known as Blithewald.

A message on the Sea Bright Fire Rescue Facebook page says this about the footage:

“We feel that releasing this film will not only give the public insight on what we do but will allow our brothers and sisters of the service an opportunity to better both themselves and ourselves in the future. The members made multiple attempts to try and gain control of the fire with an interior attack but were subsequently driven back. Please excuse some of the language as the guys were in the heat of the moment.”

 

RUMSON: ‘TOUGH SPOTS’ MADE FIRE DAUNTING

RUMSON FIRE 042115 2Blithewald as seen Tuesday morning. An area of the roof between two dormers showed heavy damaged, as seen below. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

RUMSON FIRE 042115 1The fire that caused extensive to a 132-year-old Rumson mansion Monday proved a challenge to volunteer firefighters, some of whom were on the scene nearly seven hours, Chief Kevin McCarthy tells redbankgreen.

“It’s a big, older house, so there’s lots of tough spots to get into,” said McCarthy. “It took a while to get it all mopped up.”

There was no official word on a possible cause of the blaze. McCarthy referred questions to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s office, where a spokesman said information was not immediately available Tuesday morning.

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RUMSON: FIRE RIPS SHOWCASE MANSION

rumson fire 042015 2rumson fire 042015 1Fire caused extensive damage Monday afternoon to a Rumson home slated as the showcase for the monthlong VNA Stately Homes by the Sea fundraiser.

No one was injured in the four-alarm blaze at 76 Buena Vista Avenue, an 1880s-era mansion known as Blithewald. As of 3:30 p.m., three hours after the fire was reported, smoke could still be seen rising through the roof, which had gaping holes in it. There was no immediate official word on a possible cause.

“It’s our biggest fundraiser of the year,” said a heartbroken VNA volunteer who asked not to be named, standing outside the Blithewald gate.

The fire is the second tragedy in recent years to strike the VNA event. In 2013, a van shuttling tour participants hit a dumptruck in Rumson, causing at least one serious injury. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: BURNED HOME TO BE REPLACED

23 madison planrb fire 102214 1Five months after she was awakened by a smoke alarm and escaped to see her house go up in a ball of flame, a Red Bank woman won approval to replace the structure Thursday night. 

Designed by architect Ron Grammer, Joan Raymond’s new Craftsman-style house on Madison Avenue retains the original footprint. The plan met no opposition at the zoning board hearing.

A mother of three grown children who was alone at the time of fire, Raymond was unharmed, but lost her cat to the blaze, the cause of which was never definitively determined. She hopes to be in her new home by Christmas, she told redbankgreen. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

 

RED BANK: BLAZE DAMAGES HOME

RB fire 031915 2The fire did heavy damage to the house at 93 River Street. The roof at the rear corner of 95 River, at right above and left below, also briefly caught fire. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

RB fire 031915 1No one was injured as Red Bank volunteer firefighters quickly knocked down a blaze that had tongues of flame shooting out of two sides of a house Thursday morning.

The occupants of the home at 93 River Street, between Shrewsbury and Leighton Avenues were not present when police on patrol noticed smoke and called in the fire at around 11:15, said police Chief Darren McConnell.

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RED BANK: FIREFIGHTERS FREE TRAPPED HAWK

rb hawk 012915 1The bird makes a break for freedom under the watch of a decoy owl. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rb hawk 012915 5Red Bank volunteer firefighters rescued a juvenile hawk trapped in an open-air tower Thursday morning just as the animal appeared near starvation, an amateur ornithologist said.

The bird, a Cooper’s Hawk, had apparently been up under the peaked roof of the tower at the Medieval-style Courts of Red Bank office complex for days, having somehow bypassed steel netting installed just last fall to keep out pigeons.

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RED BANK: SCHWABENBAUER TAKES OFFICE

schwabenbauer 010415Councilman Mike DuPont snaps a photo as Linda Schwabenbauer, joined by her father, Abe Schwabenbauer, awaits her swearing-in as a council member. Pasquale Menna, below, began his third four-year term as mayor. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

pasquale menna 010415 2One year after Cindy Burnham ended a four-year lock by Democrats, Linda Schwabenbauer became the second Republican on the on the Red Bank council Sunday.

In keeping with recent tradition, however, partisanship was set aside as the annual reorganization of the borough government was marked by pledges of togetherness.

Invoking the way in which college hockey players came to shed their school identities to form the United States Olympic team in 1980, Schwabenbauer said that every member of the six-member council “has a party affiliation or cause, but each of us plays for Red Bank.”

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RED BANK: JCP&L DISPUTES ‘EXPLOSION’ CLAIM

rb fire 010415 1A series of eruptions displaced a manhole cover and bricks outside Red Bank Catholic, above. Below, JCP&L workers on making repairs in the “handhole” early Monday. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rb explosion 010515 1Were there explosions on Broad Street in Red Bank on Sunday?

Yes, according to eyewitnesses. No, according to a JCP&L spokesman – and the sidewalks downtown are as safe as ever.

Through spokesman Ron Morano, the electrical utility on Monday disputed claims that its equipment had exploded up to four times outside the St. James Church/Red Bank Catholic High complex, as reported on redbankgreen and elsewhere.

The claim that there were no explosions surprised police Chief Darren McConnell, who said he saw two himself as he stood in the cordoned-off stretch of Broad Street shortly after 3 p.m.

“I don’t know what they’re defining as an explosion,” McConnell said. “I saw what happened, and what happened looked an awful lot like an explosion to me.”

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RED BANK: ARE SIDEWALKS SAFE?

The explosions occurred in two transformer pits outside Red Bank Catholic High and St. James Church Sunday afternoon.  (Video by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_02Red Bank officials are scheduled to meet Monday with power company representatives to determine what caused Sunday’s electrical equipment explosions on Broad Street, Mayor Pasquale Menna tells redbankgreen.

Also on the table, he said, is the question of whether JCP&L’s underground equipment, which runs the length of Broad Street downtown, is safe, he said.

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RED BANK: POWER BACK ON AFTER EXPLOSIONS

rb explosion 010515 2A JCP&L crew working outside RBC at about 4:35 Monday morning. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_02Utility workers restored electrical power to downtown Red Bank Sunday night following a series of underground transformer explosions that sent manhole covers and bricks flying at mid-afternoon.

No one was reported injured in the blasts, which occurred in two curbside service pits located about 100 feet apart outside the Red Bank Catholic High School/Saint James Church complex on Broad Street, with the first of four explosions reported at about 3:06 p.m.

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RED BANK: EXPLOSIONS ROCK BROAD STREET

rb fire 010415 2Smoke billows from one of two manholes on Broad Street Sunday afternoon. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rb fire 010415 1A series of explosions in underground electrical boxes rocked Broad Street in Red Bank Sunday afternoon.

No injuries were reported as the eruptions, in front of the St. James Church/Red Bank Catholic High School complex, sent steel covers and bricks flying from two manholes shortly after 3 p.m.

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SEA BRIGHT: FIRE DESTROYS APARTMENTS

sb fire 120714 1The blaze caused significant water damage to Seabreeze Wines & Spirits on the ground floor. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

sb fire 120714 2A resident escaped safely and volunteer firefighters suffered a few cuts and scratches as fire destroyed several apartments above a Sea Bright liquor store late Sunday night.

Firefighters responded to the alarm shortly before 11 p.m. to find “full-blown fire out the windows” of the second floor, fire Chief Joe Eskridge tells redbankgreen.

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RED BANK: LAUTERWASSER TO BE FD CHIEF

rbfd chiefs 120214 1Chief-elect Joe Lauterwasser, right arrives at the First Aid building Tuesday night with his prospective first deputy, Chris Soden, left, and second deputy Pete DeFazio, center. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03If there’s one constant that defines the Red Bank Volunteer Fire Department, it’s family.

That was evident on Tuesday night, when the 143-year-old department’s annual election night celebration was dominated by names and faces that would have been familiar to attendees generations ago.

“We’re based on tradition,” said ex-chief George Lauterwasser (2002) as he awaited the arrival of the chief-elect, his 30-year-old son, Joe, at the First Aid building on Spring Street with dozens of other volunteers. “We keep it up with the kids. We’re old school.”

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RED BANK: SENIOR INDICTED FOR ARSON

HOT-TOPIC_01A 70-year-old Red Bank man was indicted for an arson spree in which he’s alleged to have started four fires in less than an hour last July, according to a document released Thursday by the Monmouth County Prosecutor.

Gabriel Ramos, of South Pearl Street, had volunteer firefighters responding to small fires at four addresses in the vicinity of the train station, police Chief Darren McConnell said shortly after the July 11 spree.

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MIDDLETOWN: ONE DEAD IN CRASH AND FIRE

[Update, November 11, 2014: Middletown police have identified the victim as Walter Burke, 43 from the Hillside section of the township.]

By JOHN T. WARD

AUTHORITIES_MTOWN2-2014One person died in a single-vehicle crash on Navesink River Road in Middletown early Sunday morning, police said.

The vehicle caught fire in the accident, which occurred at about 3:18 a.m. along the 700 block of the road, said Detective Lieutenant Stephen Dollinger, spokesman for the township police department.

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RED BANK SCORES IN GAS VALVE BATTLE

An NJNG crew packs it in after being ordered by police to stop work on a nearly completed gas regulator valve replacement on Monmouth Street in October, 2012. Below, a Monmouth Street valve that was struck by a falling tree during Hurricane Sandy. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rb gas valve 103112Remember the flap over the regulator valves that New Jersey Natural Gas Company moved above-ground along storefronts over the objections of Red Bank officials and merchants two years ago?

They’re unsafe, borough officials said. They’re ugly, too, said business owners and officials at RiverCenter, the downtown promotion agency. Mayor Pasquale Menna called them “monstrous carbuncles” forced upon the town by an “arrogant” utility company.

They’re also illegal, according to a state appellate panel ruing issued Tuesday.

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RED BANK: SMOKE ALARM ‘SAVED HER LIFE’

rb fire 102214 9Joan Raymond, at right above, outside her fire-damaged home, and getting a hug from a friend on her neighbor’s heat-blistered porch, below. (Video and photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rb fire 102214 8October is National Fire Protection Month, one of those designations meant to save lives that many of us find too easy to tune out.

For Joan Raymond of Red Bank, however, a small piece of fire safety equipment meant the difference between being alive and dead Wednesday morning.

“I’m a heavy sleeper,” Raymond said, hours after fire tore through Madison Avenue house. And if not for a talking smoke alarm chriping the word “fire,” Raymond said, mimicking its voice, “I wouldn’t be here.”

“That smoke alarm saved her life,” said Fire Chief Tommy Welsh. “She’s alive because of that thing, no doubt about it.”

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RED BANK: WOMAN ESCAPES HOUSE FIRE

As firefighters arrived, an electrical line lay sparking in the driveway to the left of the burning house. (Video and photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rb fire 102214 2A smoke alarm awoke a Red Bank woman shortly before fire engulfed her house early Wednesday morning.

Joan Raymond, of 23 Madison Avenue, said the smoke alarm, intoning a prerecorded “fire,” went off shortly after midnight, and she went downstairs to find her front porch in flames. She exited through the back door.

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RUMSON: PREDAWN FIRE DAMAGES HOME

rumson fire 101814 2Firefighters cut through the roof of the house, below. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rumson fire 101814 1A predawn fire drove a Rumson family out of their home early Saturday.

The fire, at 3 Sycamore Lane, off Ridge Road, was reported shortly after 4 a.m., and the residents had escaped safely by the time firefighters arrived, said Rumson Fire Chief Bob Halligan.

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RED BANK: WHAT SHOULD GO HERE?

40 WHITE 092314 1Restaurant? Bakery? Something else? The owners of the former Liberty Hose Company firehouse are looking for the perfect match for the vacant structure. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

40 WHITE 092314 2Everybody’s got an opinion. But does anyone have a solid, workable idea for the former Liberty Hose Company firehouse’s second act?

The owners of the 103-year building at 40 White Street in Red Bank are open to suggestions, says John Morgan, who along with his brother and father, both named Michael, bought the two-story, red brick structure from the borough earlier this year for $400,000.

“This is such a unique building that you want something that’s going to fit its persona,” Morgan told redbankgreen on a recent tour of the property. And the family is committed to “local.,” he said. “We don’t want somebody from New York to come in.”

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RED BANK: CHIMNEY FIRE DAMAGE LIMITED

rb fire 286 spring 100514Red Bank volunteer firefighters “did a fantastic job” in quickly quelling a chimney fire at 286 Spring Street reported at about 9 p.m. Sunday, said Chief Tommy Welsh. The homeowner apparently overloaded the fireplace with wood, he said. Fire damage was limited to a small area of the roof, and the firefighting effort produced minimal water damage, Welsh said. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: RUMSON COP CHARGED WITH DWI

rb crash 092114 2The crash occurred at the eastern end of White Street, where the road narrows at the rear of 46 Broad Street.. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

just_inThe motorist charged with drunk driving after crashing his car into the back of a Red Bank store early Sunday morning is a Rumson police officer, redbankgreen has learned.

Sergeant Damien Brennan, 37, of Howell, was charged with DWI and careless driving after crashing his Chevy Camaro into a dumpster behind Fisher Diamonds, at the corner of White and Broad streets, shortly after midnight, Red Bank police Chief Darren McConnell confirmed.

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RED BANK: DWI CHARGE FOLLOWS CRASH

rb crash 092114rb crash 092114 1It’s been a rough week for Red Bank landlord Helwar Realty. Last Thursday, roofers accidentally started a fire between its buildings at 48 and 50 Broad Street. Then, shortly after midnight Sunday morning, a motorist traveling east on White Street crashed into the dumpster being used by the roofers, driving it into the rear of 46 Broad, which Helwar also owns.

The structure, home to Alan H. Fisher Diamonds, was not seriously damaged, according to John Drucker, an inspector from the borough building department. The driver, Daniel Brennan, 37, of Howell, was taken to a hospital on a complaint of pain. He was also charged with DWI and careless driving, said police Chief Darren McConnell. (Photo above by Brian Woodward. Click to enlarge)