LINDEN, NJ — Local and county officials are looking into a series of suspicious fires — including one that destroyed a vacant house — that occurred less than 1 mile apart in Linden and Roselle within a matter of hours late Thursday, July 25, and the early morning of Friday, July 26.
“While it is unclear if the fires are connected, they are considered suspicious and remain under investigation by the Linden Fire Department, the Union County Arson Investigation team and the Linden Police Department,” Linden police said in a July 26 press release.
The morning of July 26, arson investigators were at 809 North Wood Ave., a dental office, where firefighters had responded at approximately 10 p.m. the previous night to battle a two-alarm blaze.
Residents from a neighboring building were evacuated due to their proximity to the fire, however no injuries were reported, police said.
A half hour later on the corner of Center Street and Seymour Avenue, which runs parallel to North Wood Avenue just a block away, firefighters responded to a second two-alarm blaze and eventually contained it but not before it destroyed a vacant house to its foundation.
Local resident Robert Scutro said when he arrived that firefighters had not yet reached the scene and he could see the fire inside illuminating the frame of the house. But within two minutes the home was fully engulfed with flames coming from every window and reaching 25 feet into the air.
“It was definitely set,” Scutro said, giving his opinion to LocalSource.
While both fires were still active, firefighters also responded to a series of smaller fires in the area, as well as a fire in a large trash container at nearby Soehl Middle School. Those fires were quickly extinguished and no significant damage was reported.
Linden police spokesman Lt. Christopher Guenther said in an email to LocalSource that there was also a fire inside a detached garage located behind a single-family home on W. 9th Avenue in Roselle at 12:21 a.m. on July 26. That location is .99 miles from the North Wood location, according to Google Maps.
In an email, Guenther “could not say if it is related at this point.”
Anyone with information about the fires is urged to contact Linden police Detective Matt Jones or Tim Hubert at 908-474-8537.
Photos by Brian Trusdell and Courtesy of Bob Scutro