RUMSON: FIRE RULED AN ACCIDENT

rumson fire 042015 3Monday’s fire at the Rumson mansion known as Blithewald appears to have been accidental, according to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s office.

Spokesman Charlie Webster told redbankgreen on Thursday that investigators believe the fire began in a wall between a guest room and an en-suite bathroom on the second floor. But they were unable to determine if a live electrical circuit or equipment was the cause, he said.

At the time of the fire, Blithewald, on Buena Vista Avenue, was undergoing extensive redecoration for use as a designer showcase for the monthlong VNA Stately Homes by the Sea fundraiser fundraiser, which was to have begun Saturday but has now been cancelled. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

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)

CHURN: SHREWSBURY TO GET FAST GREEK EATS

89 ns rd 033015Greek Eats has signed to take the corner space, at right above, at the three-store 89 Newman Springs Road, now under construction. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Rcsm2_010508For about five years, Red Bank restaurateur George Lyristis has been developing an idea for a casual fast-food restaurant based on his ethnic heritage, he tells redbankgreen‘s Retail Churn.

Well, the time has come to make the concept real, he says. With the sale of their Zoe Bistro in Little Silver, effective Wednesday, Lyristis and his brothers Charlie and Taso are planning to open a new place called Greek Eats in Shrewsbury in coming months.

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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: 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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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: 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: ROOF FIRE VEXES CHIEF

rb fire 091814 1Firefighters closed off a portion of Broad Street to fight the blaze. One peered into a wall cavity abutting the roof, below. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

A hard-to-locate rb fire 091814 2fire apparently started by roofers prompted the shutdown of a stretch of Broad Street in Red Bank Thursday afternoon.

Emergency personnel responded to smoke alarms from 50 Broad, home to the A Time to Kiln pottery class shop, and an adjoining building at about 4:10 p.m., said Fire Chief Tommy Welsh.

Volunteer firefighters then spent about an hour on the roof and inside second-floor offices, where they cut into walls in search of the source of hazy smoke, he said.

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RED BANK: INJURED MAN RESCUED FROM ATTIC

rb rescue 082014 2Rescuers removing the victim in a stokes basket through a roof hatch, as seen through a window on Ladder 91, above, and lowering him for transport to a hospital, below. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rb rescue 082014 1Red Bank police and volunteer firefighters executed a tricky rescue Wednesday morning when they extricated an injured man from under the roof of the primary school.

The victim, whose identity was not immediately available, apparently fell inside the peaked attic in a section of the school while conducting an annual inspection of the alarm system, authorities on the scene said.

“It’s like a maze and trusses and rafters in there,” said one cop.

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RED BANK: BOAT RESCUERS WIN PLAUDITS

altimari 081314Patrolwoman Kristin Altimari checks out her commendation for heroism. Also honored for roles in the rescue were public works employee Josh Schmidt, in yellow, and fire Chief Tommy Welsh, center, with Councilman Ed Zipprich and Mayor Pasquale Menna. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Just four months into her career as a police officer, Red Bank Patrolwoman Kristin Altimari drew praise Wednesday for quick thinking and heroism for helping four young women adrift in a boat on the Swimming River Saturday night.

The 30-year-old former Ocean County high school teacher, who joined the police department in March, was the primary actor in a brief drama involving a quartet of swimsuited teenage girls who found themselves helpless in a one-oared rowboat in the darkness of the Swimming River.

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RED BANK: DRIFTING BOAT PROMPTS SEARCH

rb river rescue 080914 1 rb river rescue 080914 2Draped in firefighters’ coats, four teenage girls were safe in Red Bank Saturday night after losing an oar to a dinghy they’d launched from Conover Lane in Middletown and drifitng in the darkness of the Swimming River. At right, volunteer fire and rescue workers searched the phragmites behind a home on Chapin Avenue hoping to intercept the boat, which landed at River Street with the help of a Red Bank policewoman at around 10 p.m., about an hour after it was reported adrift.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

 

SEA BRIGHT: BON JOVI DONATION MISUSED?

murphy-plansRead Murphy in 2011. below, the fire and first aid squads were displaced from their home, which was damaged by Hurricane Sandy. (Photo above by Dustin Racioppi. Click to enlarge)

sb fire house 040114The use of a $119,000 donation by pop star Bon Jovi for a new ambulance in Sea Bright has raised questions, the Asbury Park Press reports.

Nearly two years after Hurricane Sandy destroyed one first aid squad ambulance and damaged another, “some in Sea Bright question how Bon Jovi’s generous donation — originally intended to purchase a new ambulance — instead was used to refurbish an old ambulance and buy a SUV that is used almost exclusively by Sea Bright’s part-time emergency management coordinator,” the Press reports.

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