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Electrical Issues May Have Started Condo Blaze, Police Say

Police say they are still investigating the cause of last week's fire, but renovation work is no longer believed to be the culprit

A fire that destroyed six condominium units in the Society Hill complex off Ridge Road last Wednesday may have started as an electrical fire, Mahwah Police Chief Jim Batelli said Monday. Police believe the fire was started accidentally, he said.

“We no longer believe the fire started as a result of any renovation work that was ongoing in either of the two empty units,” as was considered after initial investigations last week, Batelli said.

“We believe that cause of the fire was electrical in nature,” he said, declining to elaborate.

Police confirmed the fire is not being investigated as a suspicious fire, but said the investigation into what started the blaze is still ongoing.

A large fire Friday ripped through a 16-unit block on Sassafras Court, destroying six units, damaging 10 others, and leaving several Mahwah families displaced.

Four of the six most damaged units collapsed while Mahwah firefighters were battling the blaze for several hours last week. The remnants of those units were bulldozed to minimize the danger of them falling due to high winds, fire officials said last week.

The remaining units suffered varying degrees of smoke and water damage, official said.

All residents were evacuated, and none were hurt in the fire. One firefighter suffered minor burns during the fire, and was transported to Valley Hospital, where he was treated and released.

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rip parsells November 13, 2012 at 12:15 AM
WILL SOME ONE FIND OUT WHY THEY DESTROYD ALL THE GAS WATER AND ELECTRIC LINES TO THE UNITS THAT DIDN'T HAVE ANY DAMAGE? THEY LITERALLY DUG UP THE LINES WITH A BACKHOE AND BROKE ALL THE LINES????????? WHY?? THEN THEY WANT THE HOME OWNERS TO PAY TO FIX THEM.THERE SHOULD BE AN INVESTIGATION OF THIS SITUATION.THE PEOPLE DIDN'T SUFFER ENOUGH ALREADY THAT THIS HAS TO BE FORCED UPON THEM WITH NO EXPLANAITION???
Annette Coletta November 14, 2012 at 10:18 AM
All of the electrical wires, gas lines and water lines are intertwined and enter the building at set locations which then service many units. For example, the gas meters and gas lines for half of the building were located in a closet at the end of the units that burnt down. The water lines for four of the units are located in front of one unit and run under the units and through the walls to get to all four units. Also, the gas and electrical lines suffered damage due to the fire. It is my understanding that the gas and electric companies cut the lines so that damaged lines cannot be accidently turned on and used again. I spoke with the worker from the gas company and he said every single gas line has to be checked and serviced before the gas can be turned back on. Considering the safety of the residents, including myself, would you want it any other way? I would rather wait for things to be done properly than to run the risk of another fire! Thanks for your concern.
rip parsells November 14, 2012 at 04:18 PM
thanks for clearing that up
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