Blaze Destroys New Jersey Firehouse


Posted: 02-02-2008
Updated: 02-03-2008 03:05:30 AM


ALLISON STEELE
The Star-Ledger

A blaze tore through the Holmes Marshall firehouse in Piscataway yesterday, causing part of the roof to cave in and sending two firefighters to the hospital with smoke inhalation suffered while battling the fire.

The volunteer company's firehouse was unoccupied when several neighbors saw smoke coming from the building at around 10:30 a.m. and called police, said Robert Burns, chief of the Holmes Marshall volunteer company. The cause of the fire has not been determined, he said.

Midge Ivey, who lives across the street from the firehouse and works out of her Hanson Avenue home, was walking to her mailbox yesterday morning when she noticed what she thought was fog in the air. As she got closer to the mailbox, one of the back doors to the firehouse blew open, she said.

"It was such a force that I felt it from here," Ivey said.

One door after another blew open in rapid succession along the side of the firehouse, Ivey said. She then saw flames shoot out of the top of the building.

"I was screaming like a maniac," said Ivey, who called 911.

The company's three trucks were damaged in the fire, but firefighters were able to pull them from the firehouse's garage before the flames spread, Burns said.

Firefighters from surrounding towns rushed to the scene to douse the flames amid high winds and a driving rain. The fire was under control by 12:15 p.m. Two firefighters were taken to Robert Wood Johnson Hospital in New Brunswick, where they were treated for smoke inhalation. The cause of the blaze is under investigation.

The Holmes Marshall Volunteer Fire Company had worked out of the firehouse on Deborah Drive for 54 years, according to a statement released by Piscataway Mayor Brian Wahler's office.

"We are devastated by this fire," the statement says. "All of our other fire companies will pull together so our residents will continue to have full coverage until Holmes Marshall is rebuilt."

Burns said officials were still attempting to determine if the firehouse could be salvaged, or would need to be razed. The garage doors were badly damaged, and inside the garage, the walls appeared charred and debris from the roof collapse covered the floor. Burns said it was unclear where the fire company would be based in the near future.

"We don't know what will happen, but we'll be back," Burns said.

Allison Steele may be reached at asteele@starledger.com or (732) 404-8083.

Photo Credit: ED MURRAY/THE STAR-LEDGER
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