Au Bord de la Merde

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Deja vu all over again.  OK, so maybe Tona didn’t do it this time. But the Egyptian guy had better be the one who rebuilds it.  Word to the wise, guys.

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Late Breaking Update:

The blaze at 102 Russell Ave. began around 4:30 pm Wednesday. Police Chief William Skidmore said that Avalon maintenance workers were using a blowtorch while fixing a leak and doing plumbing repairs. The lightweight, wooden structure fueled the flames and made fighting the fire difficult, Edgewater Fire Chief Thomas Jacobson said. The building’s fire sprinklers were on and the building was up to code, but he added: “If it was made out of cinder block and concrete, we wouldn’t have this problem.”

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“A plumbing repair ignited a fire in the wall which then spread through the building,” Chief Skidmore said. “It was accidental, there was nothing suspicious about it, and we have complete verification and there’s no doubt about it.”

Maybe so. However, this type of statement also demonstrates the redundant repetition and emphasis that officials might deploy when arson occurs and the building’s owner is one of the victims rather than a suspect. That’s because even the hint of the “A” word will dramatically delay the insurance claims process, and there are now many, many former residents of the apartment complex who are completely adrift.  And if there’s one thing that Chris Christie doesn’t need right now, it’s another long, drawn-out disaster recovery drama (especially in Bergen County).

Governor Christie, who visited the site in the evening, said state officials would investigate whether building codes were followed. “The fact that there was no loss of life here is really a blessing,” Christie said, likening the fire to the one that destroyed the Seaside Heights boardwalk in 2013. He said he visited to reassure displaced residents that they won’t be forgotten and that there are state resources available to help them. “That’s why I’m here, to make sure that people do not forget,” he said.

Will do.  Here’s one of the things that Lunghu doesn’t forget: experienced folks in the construction trades explained that when you want to make a fire at a building site look accidental, you wait until quitting time, spark your propane torch, turn the flame to low, point the nozzle at the drywall, and walk away.  Many hours later, even with 5/8″ drywall, the fire will be burning out of control.  In this case, it’s a good thing that inexperienced workers were on the job.

“The occupants of this building probably didn’t realize they were basically living in the middle of a lumberyard,” said Jack J. Murphy, who teaches fire safety at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “The only saving grace was that this didn’t happen at 2 am.

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After the rescue phase concludes, the recovery phase kicks in:

Most of the building was in broken, battered pieces as a crane began to pull the wreckage apart bit by splintered bit around 8:45 am Friday morning.

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So who gets the emergency, no-bid demolition and hauling contract?  Stevie Hot Dogs?

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