UPDATE: The Bergen County Prosecutor’s office has announced the arrest of the homeowner involved in the fire reported below. The press release can be read by clicking here.
Devastation struck at an Oakland home Saturday morning. Volunteer firefighters from Oakland, Wyckoff, Franklin Lakes and Waldwick responded. But a gas leak and a burning fire is one of the most dangerous combinations and, while no lives were lost, tragically the home was destroyed.
Burning natural gas is not treated as a normal structure fire. Firefighters are trained to fight the fire first by shutting down the source of the gas. Protocol calls for defensive measures to prevent the fire from spreading until conditions allow access to the structure. In most cases, fires at the scene of a gas leak are not fought with water out of concern of creating an even more dangerous situation as the gas continues to leak. Based on reports posted on OaklandFD.org, this appears to have been the case in Oakland. Additional photos by photographer and firefighter Jim DeLillo are on the OaklandFD website, and others from resident Debbie O’Dell are available on Shutterfly.
This weekend, fire also brought tragedy to the owner of Wow-That’s Unusual, in Oakland. Steve Kaufman was woken by the family dog in the predawn hours and discovered his Sloatsburg, NY home on fire. The family escaped unharmed, but it’s feared that two pet cats may have perished. Adding to the tragedy is the impending birth of another child, originally scheduled to be delivered by cesarean section the same day as the fire. The fire destroyed the home, baby supplies, and various collectibles inventoried to be sold at the Oakland shop.
Volunteer firefighters in Sloatsburg were alerted by a patrol officer who smelled smoke. By the time fire trucks were on the scene, the fire was too intense to enter the house and firefighters worked to fight the blaze from the exterior for hours.