Fire destroys house on Lawrence-Princeton border

Emergency officials closed Cleveland Road, off Carter Road and Province Line Road, near the intersection of Pretty Brook Road.

By: Lea Kahn


Staff photo by Steve Bates

   "Careless smoking" has been blamed for the fire that destroyed a house on the corner of Pretty Brook Road and Province Line Road Tuesday afternoon, according to Casey DiBlasio, spokeswoman for the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office.
   No criminal charges will be filed, because the cause of the fire was deemed to be accidental, said Ms. DiBlasio.
   The homeowner was at home when the fire broke out, said Fire Chief Robert Brackett of the Lawrenceville Fire Co. Several workmen also were on the premises. All escaped safely, he said. There were no injuries.
   It appears that one of the workmen at the house was smoking a cigarette, police said. The workman thought he had extinguished the cigarette and discarded it. The wind may have blown it into the garage area, where it ignited cloths that had been stored there, police said.
   The Lawrence Township Police Department received "numerous" 911 calls reporting the fire the day of the fire, Chief Brackett said. The fire was called in to the police department at 1:04 p.m. The house was on the border of Lawrence and Princeton townships.
   Emergency officials closed Cleveland Road, off Carter Road, and Province Line Road, near the intersection of Pretty Brook Road.
   Smoke was still rising from the shell of the house late Tuesday afternoon. Charred beams from the garage roof had fallen through. The front door to the house was charred, and water was raining down from the second floor into the main section of the house.
   The fire started in the garage, said Chief Brackett. It quickly spread to apartment above the garage, and then to the main portion of the house, he said.
   The chief said that when he arrived at the scene, "all you saw was fire." The heat from the blaze was so intense that it was almost impossible to approach the house from the driveway, he said.
   The lack of water pressure did not help, Chief Brackett said. There is a fire hydrant near the house, but it did not supply adequate water pressure. The Hopewell Borough and Pennington Borough fire companies sent water tanker trucks to the scene, he said.
   The three Lawrence Township volunteer fire companies, plus fire companies from Pennington and Hopewell boroughs, the Pennington Road Fire Co. in Ewing Township, the Montgomery Township Fire Department and the Bristol-Myers Squibb Fire Brigade responded to the alarm.