New Jersey: Six-Alarm Fire Destroys Unoccupied Elementary School

EDISON, NJ, MARCH 22, 2014 – A 50- year-old unoccupied elementary school was destroyed by a six-alarm fire. Edison firefighters responding to the early-evening fire at the James Monroe Elementary School found heavy smoke and fire. Hand-lines were stretched for an interior attack, but due to the rapidly spreading fire, units went to an outside attack. Several truck-mounted deck guns and elevated streams were used. It took several hours to control the fire, during which portions of the roof and wall collapsed.

Companies continued to flow water from the exterior throughout the night. A dozen firefighters suffered smoke inhalation while operating at the scene and were treated and released. Mutual aid fire departments from neighboring towns, including Highland Park, Metuchen, New Brunswick, North Brunswick, Old Bridge Township, Piscataway Township, South Plainfield and Woodbridge Township, responded to the scene to assist and cover the township during the incident.

Middlesex County authorities have charged a school custodian with starting the fire, alleging that he discarded a cigarette into a trash can in the school before leaving the building.

Nearly 500 students attended the school. After the fire, it was decided to move the displaced students to Middlesex County College for the remainder of the school year.

—Harvey Eisner