An 89-year-old man and an 87-year-old woman were assisted out of their Bogert Ranch home by neighbors early Monday morning before it burned to the ground, police said in an interview Monday morning.
According to Mahwah Police Arson Investigator Officer Michael Blondin, the couple was awake inside the mobile home unit off Pulis Avenue at about 12:15 a.m. on Labor Day when the man smelled something burning.
“[The man] had been cooking something, so he assumed it was that burning,” Blondin said. “But then he saw the flames from outside quickly moving into the unit.”
The couple was helped out of the house by a neighbor, police said.
The Mahwah Fire Department responded to the scene and, “quickly put out the fire, and prevented it from moving to any of the nearby trailers,” Blondin said. The unit was “engulfed in flames,” when the FD arrived and “totally destroyed,” he said. The Ramsey Fire Department also assisted to put out the fire, officials said.
After an investigation, Blondin said he and the township’s Fire Prevention Bureau determined that the fire was caused by the “improper use” of an extension cord that was wired from the inside of the trailer to the outside to act as a power source outside. The couple had several extension cords running from the inside to the outside of the unit, Blondin said.
The man and woman were, “lucky they were awake,” when the fire broke out, Blondin said. The two did not suffer serious injuries, but were transported to Valley Hospital in Ridgewood to be evaluated for smoke inhalation, police said.
Three cats that lived in the house did not survive the fire, authorities said.