Breaking News: Fire on Orchard Street

July 17, 2008
House Fire on Orchard Street possibly started by young child

House Fire on Orchard Street possibly started by young child.

Firefighters are battling a house fire on Orchard Street, between Park Avenue and Center Street in Matawan Borough.  I walked down to the scene where I learned that the two story house with attached two car garage is a rental property and is owned by a couple in Holmdel.  A neighbor said it appeared that a young child in the home, around 3 years old, had gotten a hold of a firecracker and set it off sparking the blaze.

DISCLAIMER: This was heard “through the grapevine”, so I do not know for sure if this is a fact. I will gladly post a retraction if it is false.

If this is indeed true, it is a sad case of irresponsible behavior on the part of those around the child.  I know it was the Fourth of July a couple of weeks ago, but MY GOD if you have kids in the house, you DO NOT leave firecrackers laying around!  Secondly, how did a child of that age get his hands on something to set it off!?!  These are questions yet to be answered, I suppose.

Fortunately, none of the residents of the house were harmed.  We can be thankful for that.

More as I learn more!  Stay tuned.


  1. That is sad, right down the road from me

  2. Yeah, I’m not too far from there either. As the firetrucks screamed past my house, I followed them and saw the flames shooting out the back of the house. Such a shame. I hope to learn more today.

  3. i was on one of the ambulances that were on scene and 3 people were transported to the hospital with smoke intalation… also one firefighter went down while battling the blaze… he is ok tho…

  4. Unknown, thank you for the report. It’s a shame to hear that some people had to go to the hospital.

  5. When someone is a reporter their job is to accurately report incidents. You are not Accurately completing your job’s task. The child in the Home was not at all 3 years old. INvestigate your story more. This was not a case of “bad parenting” but just a horrible accident that could have happened to anyone.

  6. you should possibly investigate how the child got his hands on something to light the fire cracker…. you’d be suprised with what you find

  7. JaNell,
    While I strive to report the facts as I get them, I have been unable to learn any further details of this incident due to the fact that I haven’t had time to call authorities or whatever. And actually, this blog isn’t my “job”. It’s something I do for the love of writing about the local community.

    Anyways, as I stated, I had talked to a neighbor so just by that admission alone, meant that everything I had heard was, in fact, “through the grapevine”. No where did I say “this is exactly what happened…” or “authorities said…” I think most people who would read that would surely not take it as fact. It was just something that people, who were standing around while it was happening, were talking about and I happened to get that much out of it. I then go on to say “IF this is indeed true…” and simply stated my opinion on the scenario IF it was true.

    The whole purpose of a blog is for social and community interaction. If anybody does have factual details about this terrible accident, I’d love to hear them and I’m sure the readers and community would love to hear them as well! Thanks for writing.

  8. JaNell,
    I have edited the post to include a disclaimer: “This was heard “through the grapevine”, so I do not know for sure if this is a fact. I will gladly post a retraction if it is false.” as well as say there are questions yet to be answered. If you have any details about this, please by all means, let us know what actually did happen and how everybody is doing.

  9. Oh I was outside from The time the firework went off until the last fire truck left so yes I know what happened because I live directly across the street. But it is not my business nor my job to report or blog on this situation. For the love of my neighbors I choose to let them mourn this situation and give them their privacy during this very hard time in their life. This is no time for “speculation”.

  10. Well, I’m not looking to argue over this, as I’m always sorry to hear when such things happen. Especially if it could have been prevented. I’m sure it is a hard time for them. I mean no matter how the fire started, the fact remains they are now without a home. I hope the community rallies and lends support to this family. If there’s anything I can do, I will surely do it. Donate money, necessities, or whatever. Do you know if they are going to do some kind of fundraiser? So let’s put the differences of opinion aside and do something positive for the family!

  11. Well that sounds like a more sensible solution…. the families are going to need the help. Just let me know what I can do.

  12. 1st let me say, I agree with helping the family here no matter what happened, it’s a horrible loss I’m sure. My questions is, has there been any info in the paper or anything on this? As a resident of the neighborhood, it would be nice to know what actually happened, as opposed to idol gossip, but for some reason, this seems to have been ignored by the press.

  13. Unknown,
    I seem to be the only local resource (news or otherwise) to have covered this. I have been searching but haven’t found any “official” press mentions. I’m not official press by any stretch of the imagination, but this seems to be the only place where there has been talk of the fire. I was hoping someone with information would find this and post a comment.

    I’ll try to dig around some more and see what I can find out. I’d like to help the family out in some way, though. Perhaps a local bank or something can organize a fundraiser.

  14. If you want more information on what happened, you need to speak with one of the Matawan Fire Department chiefs who were on scene. I was a firefighter there, but I’m not really permitted to share information on the cause, other than what had taken place during the duration of the fire. News12 had a camera crew there filming and it was aired on their station that morning.

  15. EveryoneGoesHome,
    Do I just call up the station and ask for someone with information about the fire? Is that how that works? I’m not a news reporter so I don’t know if that’s the protocol to find out public information. I didn’t see News12 on the scene when I was there and when I go to their site, it’s a complete nightmare! So I guess I won’t be getting any further information there. I guess we’ll have to continue to speculate on what happened. ;)

  16. There is no specific firehouse to actually call since Matawan is a volunteer organization. The best I can do for you for facts of how the fire occurred is to give you the phone number to the Fire Office which is a public number, but isn’t always answered because it isn’t an emergency number — it does have an answering machine, though, so you can leave a message asking for a Chief or Officer to return your call (732-290-2995). News12 was located on the Park Ave & Orchard St corner (And yes, I know what you mean about their site — you must also be a subscriber to access it). Feel free to ask any questions, but as I mentioned, I can only answer them to the best of MY knowledge and to the extent that I’m really allowed to.

  17. FOR EVERYONE INFORMATION….Not a 3 yr old set the fire, but a 8 yr old who did not reside at the house..Set a blazed a firework and threw it on a bed…No one who lived in this dwelling did this…Not even the firefighters or police can get the actual story correct…so there is no neglect on the parents behalf….because the other child got the firework from somewhere else and brought it to MY home…and for where he got the lighter…try the local grocery market in town…Yes sells lighters to kids for 2 for $1.00……So if you get a story at least make sure is somewhat true…and if you were out there you would have seen me and the other family standing on Janell’s porch (so that you could of got the true story)…..Point blank we LOST everything and whatever we were able to retrieve was too badly damaged from either smoke or water

  18. oh and the reason why it took the local firefighters awhile to put out the blaze is because MATAWAN FIRE DEPARTMENT DOES NOT HAVE A TRUCK WITH A LADDER….but the cops can harasse every car that comes in or out of the borough but can’t help its OWN town to purchase a ladder…Where is all the taxes going to?(THAT HAVE INCREASED ALMOST EVERY YEAR) Local parks are broken down and very old, our firefighters are unpaid, fire trucks with no ladder….the borough hall looks a condemned building…TERRIBLE on Matawan’s behalf…we are not a poor town but surely treat the residents in that manner…

  19. Dear me,
    First of all, I am sorry that this happened to you and your family. It is a situation that no one should endure, no matter of the circumstances surrounding it. I will update the story to post the facts, so thank you for coming forward with your story!

    Secondly, as noted, a neighbor had said it was caused by a child and I could have sworn I heard her say a 3 year old. With everything going on and all the commotion, she might have said 8 years old, and I simply heard her wrong. Like I said it was something heard second-hand so I was unsure of the facts. I was going to go ask a police officer or firefighter, but I figured they were too busy and may not have offered any information at the time.

    I pretty much stuck to the corner of Orchard and Park (only briefly going on Park to see what it looked like from the back); I didn’t walk directly in front, where the firetrucks were. I didn’t want to get in anybody’s way. I figured there was enough going on and enough people at the scene, they didn’t need another person standing around.

    I agree, it’s horrible there are stores selling lighters to kids. It should be a no-brainer for store owners to NOT sell cigarettes or matches or lighters to children! That’s totally unacceptable!

    I’m shocked, but not too surprised to hear about the issues with Matawan. I think a lot of towns in this area have same issue of high taxes yet nothing to show for it to their citizens.

    Again, I’m truly sorry for what happened. I’m sure you are still shaken up by it. Can you tell me if a local bank or other organization has offered any assistance? Is there somewhere we can donate money or items for you to replace things you have lost? Please let us know what you need! I’m sure many readers, in addition to myself, will try to help out in any way that we can.

  20. I meant I was at the corner of Orchard and Center.

  21. “Me”.. First off, I send my condolences to you and your family for your loss, but I’ll explain to you the REAL reason why it took the Fire Dept so long to extinguish the fire so the Fire Dept doesn’t necessarily look bad for the job-well-done that it did..
    This was because the original crew that went into the house encountered extreme heat temperatures along with pitch black smoke that you couldn’t even see your hand in front of your face with.
    Yes, having a ladder truck that works would have been nice, but it had no effect whatsoever on how this fire went.
    First off, there was a lack of manpower to begin with, which in turn hurt the way the operations went at this fire. Secondly, if we did have enough manpower, we would have had extra guys to ventilate windows to clear the smoke and most of the heat from the upper floor to allow the firefighters to advance closer to where the fire was and extinguish it.
    I was the very first firefighter in the house on the nozzle and as I got to the top of the stairs along with my crew, the smoke had already banked itself down the stairwell and was pitch black, allowing us no visibility whatsoever (which believe it or not, yes, you usually can see somewhat inside of a fire). Also, the heat wasn’t too bad at first, but then we got hit with a heat wave that had extreme temperatures and a possibility of a “flashover” (heat temperatures in excess of 1200+ degrees and the simultaneous ignition of everything combustible in the room at a split second). Also, the water that I was hitting the ceiling with to cool it as much as possible to prevent a flashover was boiling hot by the time it got back down to the floor and was burning my legs and the firefighter’s legs who was behind me. The fire had also gotten above us in the attic and we had a potential of the roof collapsing on us. With those conditions at hand, the first crew backed out of the house because we were now dealing with a loss of life possibility and we couldn’t make any progress.
    Ventilation soon occurred after and then the second crew was able to knock down the fire.
    Again, I send my condolences to you and your family for your loss, but I don’t want the Matawan Fire Dept. to look bad for a job that we actually did very well with the manpower we originally had to work with.

  22. Dear EveryoneGoesHome I wasnt making the matawan fire dept look bad…i actually salute them for being brave and helping me in my situation….the point I was trying to make was that MATAWAN BOROUGH need to help its residents and services for them….Red Cross assisted us as much as they could for 3 days and then we have to do for ourselves…Because we dont receive and social services we are entitled to and emergency funding…But THANKS to all to the condolences…If anyone wants to help they can contact me at Sherriah 7324101907 or my neighbor Karen at 7325911852 for any donations….WE APPRECIATE IT!

  23. “Me” — I appreciate your kind words. I don’t want it to sound as if I was going off on you, but I just wanted to get part of the story out in the open as to why it took longer than expected to put the fire out. I definitely agree with you as to how the borough needs to assist its residents and emergency services more, though. I can only speak on behalf of the fire department since that is the organization that I’m apart of, but as a volunteer organization, we’re trying everything in our power to purchase all the new and necessary equipment that we need to better ourselves, as well as the community as a whole. It seems as if the borough cuts our department budget year after year, so we don’t really have much money within to purchase everything that we’d like.. therefore, we must make the best of what we have for the time being. I will bring up a thought to my fire company about donations, but I can’t make any promises, as we are low with money and funding to begin with as I stated before. Take care and I wish the best to you and your family.

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