Published in the Home News Tribune 5/22/03
By TONY SCLAFANI and KYLE S. THOMAS
GANNETT NEW JERSEY
MIDDLESEX BOROUGH: A fast-moving fire destroyed the home of the borough fire
chief early yesterday, leaving investigators searching for a cause hours
later, authorities said.
The blaze erupted about 1 a.m. on Voorhees Ave., the home of Fire Chief
Richard Reedy, and quickly spread throughout the two-story wood-frame home,
activating smoke detectors, said borough fire investigator Danny Coppola.
Reedy's wife, Sandy, and their two children, Megan, 17, and Richard Jr., 21,
awoke and ran outside screaming as about 50 volunteer firefighters from the
borough and Dunellen arrived. At the time, Reedy, a chemical operator, was in
the middle of a double shift at National Starch & Chemical in Bridgewater.
"I kept getting a constant busy signal every time I called my house," said
Reedy, who had heard the report of a fire on his block on his pager. "Before
I got my foot out the door, my wife called from her cell phone and let me
know it was my house."
The fire ignited outside the home's side entrance, a kitchen door, and shot
up the side to the master bedroom on the second floor, Coppola said. Flames
shot through the roof and reached heights of 30 feet in the air, he said.
When Reedy arrived home, he didn't fight the fire, but stayed with his
family, who has lived at the home for at least 18 years. "It was hard to
believe at first, but then it set in and became emotional for me," Reedy
One firefighter, who was not identified, suffered an electrical shock when he
entered the basement to shut off the home's utilities and stepped into a
foot-high level of water, Coppola said. The borough's rescue squad took him
to Somerset Medical Center in Somerville, and he later returned, he said.
It took firefighters about 90 minutes to get control of the flames, which
scorched Mrs. Reedy's Ford Explorer in the driveway, Coppola said. He would
not speculate on whether the fire appears accidental or suspicious.
Middlesex Police Lt. Kevin Reilly, a department spokesman, said the fire
appears accidental, but investigators have not determined a cause. As a
routine practice involving large fires in the borough, the Middlesex County
Prosecutor's Office was asked to assist in the investigation, he said.
Early yesterday afternoon, yellow tape lined Reedy's property as police and
fire investigators sifted through the house's charred remains. Reedy's family
members gathered at the scene to console one another.
"It sounded like shots. The crackling and popping. I heard it all the way
down the street," said Joan Kovach, Reedy's sister-in-law who lives two
The house has been deemed unlivable, and Reedy and his family will be staying
with relatives, Kovach said.
Coppola, a former fire chief, said the home was probably beyond repair, and
the remains would have to be torn down. For the borough's firefighters, he
said the blaze was tougher to fight than most.
"First of all, it's always difficult to be involved in a fully engulfed
structure, but it's always worse when it's one of your own," he said.
Donations are being accepted and can be sent to The Reedy Family C/O Pierce Firehouse 416 A Street Middlesex, NJ 08846
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Thread: NJ Fire Chiefs Home Burns
05-24-2003, 12:12 AM #1
NJ Fire Chiefs Home BurnsAndrew
05-24-2003, 01:21 PM #2
05-25-2003, 10:09 PM #3
- Join Date
- Mar 2003
- Jefferson City, TN
Sorry to hear about the chief and his loss. My prayers are with him and his family.
05-26-2003, 03:25 AM #4
The dwelling can be replaced....we should thank God that Reedy's wife, Sandy, and their two children, Megan, 17, and Richard Jr., 21, all made it to safety.
At least, the Chief had the presence of mind...NOT to assume command of the incident...and remain with his family on the sidelines.Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
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