Early morning blaze sends Garwood firefighters to hospital

Photo by Brian Trusdell
An early morning fire on July 13 severely damaged an unoccupied home undergoing renovations in Garwood.

GARWOOD — One local firefighter was hospitalized for heat-related injuries, and another was treated and released for minor injuries, from battling an early morning blaze that severely damaged an unoccupied house on Willow Avenue on Friday, July 13.

“It was a vacant house,” Garwood fire Chief Allan Tweedle said. “It was under renovation, so nobody was home.”

Tweedle said his department received a report of smoke near Willow Avenue at 3:25 a.m. He said the blaze at the single-family home at 640 Willow Ave. took about 90 minutes to bring under control. Most of the fire was contained in the rear of the structure, which he said was an older house.

“We had two major collapses in the building,” he said, “which makes it harder to put out.”

Heat from the fire was so intense that damage was visible to the siding on the house on the adjacent lot to the east.

After the blaze had been extinguished, it was apparent that the roof had been almost totally destroyed, as well as the rear area of the house. Some of the windows were smashed and the side of he building was black from fire damage.

The chief said the cause of the fire was not yet known and that members of the county’s arson squad are conducting an investigation. He said it is a matter of procedure to involve when fire damage “is over a certain dollar amount.”

The Garwood Fire Department was assisted by firefighters from Westfield, Roselle, Clark, Mountainside, Cranford, Springfield and Kenilworth, Tweedle said.