Two Firefighters Injured As Fires Scorch Playground, House

One of the injured firefighters declined transport to the hospital and the other was taken to the hospital with minor burns to his ears and neck. Both are members of the Elmwood Park Fire Department

Updated Tuesday, April 10 at 7:30 a.m.


battled two simultaneous fires that erupted within minutes of each other in the southeast section of Fair Lawn late Monday morning.

The first fire broke out around 11 a.m. in the playground at , forming a large black plume of smoke in the town’s far southeast side. Fair Lawn fire chief Eric Reamy said firefighters knocked down the fire pretty quickly, but not before it completely destroyed the playground, parts of which have been reduced to black soot and burnt plastic.

Just 10 minutes later, a house fire erupted on Zachary Terrace that forced crews to the scene north of Brookdale Park.

Reamy said that fire appears to have started on the outside and extended up the outside walls into the attic and second floor bedroom. Crews initially had some difficulty accessing the fire but were eventually able to knock it down.

“We’re under control,” Reamy said at the scene. “There are still a couple of hot spots we’re trying to get, but it appears we’re all under control.”

Reamy said while the house took extensive damage in the fire and is currently uninhabitable, he expects it can be rebuilt.

He said the fire department did not evacuate any residents from the house, but that two firefighters -- both from Elmwood Park -- were injured while fighting the blazes.

One was transported by ambulance to St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center with minor burns to his ears and neck and has since been released, Reamy said. The other refused transport from the scene. A report on NorthJersey.com said that firefighter had complained of shortness of breath.

The playground fire has been linked to three juveniles from Saddle Brook who were playing with matches, according to a report on NorthJersey.com.

The cause of the house fire, Reamy said, is still under investigation by the borough's fire prevention bureau, but it appears to be accidental and is not being treated as suspicious. 

Reamy speculated that the dry, windy conditions contributed to spreading the house fire.

"Right now we’ve got gusts of up to 20 to 30 miles an hour," he said at the scene. "It’s really aggravating the fire at this point."

Reamy said that when dry, windy conditions pose a , residents should avoid lighting any outdoor fires and be cautious with smoking materials.

In addition to all four Fair Lawn fire companies and the , fire departments from Elmwood Park, Saddle Brook, Paramus and Glen Rock responded to Monday's blazes. Hawthorne and Rochelle Park fire departments also provided coverage and Paterson came as a fast team, Reamy said. 

The Parks Department has cordoned off Brookdale Park playground and assistant borough manager Jim Van Kruiningen said that it will remain closed indefinitely.

Esther April 09, 2012 at 06:09 PM
what a shame! we were just at Brookdale this Saturday playing baseball & meeting the FL Easter Bunny. Hope the fire fighters will be ok.
Good Work FD April 09, 2012 at 08:44 PM
first would like to say thank you to our volunteers. i have a feeling what i am about to say will be taken the wrong way so let me start off by saying it is only constructive critism and in the interest of everyones safety. maybe the leaders in our fire departments and especially our police departments should encourage thier volunteers and officers to excersize more and live a healthier lifestyle. when i see the size and conditioning of some of these guys i wonder how the can perform certain parts of thier job.
flmolly April 09, 2012 at 10:21 PM
Really... I’m sorry did I miss something. What does exercising more and living a healthier lifestyle have to do with THIS story. I could really care less the size or lifestyle that one of these brave guys has when he is running into a burning building when everyone else including you is running out. Or when the police officer is saving your butt from being killed. Obviously you knew what you were going to say had nothing to do with the story because you had to apologize in advance. Maybe you should have just left it at thank you volunteers and maybe you should have added that you are glad to hear that the 2 firefighters are ok and that they weren't more seriously hurt. Next time you leave a comment and have to apologize first.. don’t leave it. With that said. Thank you guys for doing a great job with limited resources that you have during the day. I'm glad no one was seriously hurt. Keep up the good work.
k April 09, 2012 at 10:28 PM
i hope you never have a crisis where you require services from any Fair Lawn volunteers or law enforcement. shame on you for your criticism. perhaps you should spend your free time doing something more "constructive" like reading to underpriviledged children at our public library or volunteering to help stock the food pantry.
John Jones April 09, 2012 at 10:46 PM
Good job by the firefighters. Too bad some idiot decided to smoke a cigarette in a childrens playground. Now the kids have no place to play.
Don'tCRY April 09, 2012 at 11:04 PM
Thank all the emergency services for their hard work today, these fires were a true danger to everyone as the wind was blowing fiercly!
Good Work FD April 10, 2012 at 12:40 AM
flmolly- when i read one fire fighter was hospitalized for shortness of breath it made me think it could be beneficial for the firemen to try and stay in shape. they are extremely brave and selfless and may push thier bodies farther than their bodies can handle. they are volunteers and i am thankful for their service however they choose to treat themselves, i was only stating it may be beneficial to their safety to stay fit
Good Work FD April 10, 2012 at 12:45 AM
as far police officers, they can be put in many situations where physical conditioning is very important, they may have to engage in combat, chase a criminal, etc... they are not volunteers and paid very well. therefore staying in shape should be part of their job
Esther April 10, 2012 at 12:43 PM
Sounds like playground fire was intentional
Me April 10, 2012 at 12:53 PM
Did I miss something? Where did it say that?
FLDad April 10, 2012 at 01:36 PM
According to NorthJersey.com, the fire was set intentionally by Saddle Brook kids..
Esther April 10, 2012 at 02:05 PM
:( I loved that playground. My son has baseball practice scheduled there this week. I had to tell him the playground burned down; he was shocked. The article I re-read this morning stated it was done with matches but the picture shows a full blaze. Can only matches cause that kind of damage? Maybe we need to install cameras in our playgrounds? just a suggestion
Bruce Knuckle April 10, 2012 at 02:38 PM
A., matches can cause huge tragedies. B. Saddle Brook kids seem to be big time trouble makers. Must be a prerequisite to be a poor parent there. C. Cameras arent necessary, better policing is.
Julie Favaro April 10, 2012 at 02:43 PM
Great Job and THANK YOU to the Volunteer Firemen. One of which is my son! The sad fact is that it was 12 year old minors from another town that were playing with matches and leaves which then caused the fire. Now who pays for a new playground for OUR residents....Our Fair Lawn residents or should these kids be held responsible? I say the kids!
FLResident98 April 10, 2012 at 05:30 PM
Nice broad brush painting of Saddle Brook kids and their parents. We have plenty of homegrown hoodlums right here in town. The fact that this fire was set intentionally speaks about those 12 year olds. Not about an entire population. I do agree about better policing but that will require staff we don't have at the moment.
Zak Koeske April 10, 2012 at 05:59 PM
According to police the fire was not set intentionally.
Bruce Knuckle April 11, 2012 at 01:35 AM
Fl Resident, if the shoe fits wear it. Remember, the town has curfews because parents cant control them. Sorry if you dont like it, but, look at Brookdale, now our Fair Lawn families cant go there.
FLResident98 April 11, 2012 at 12:05 PM
Bruce, you seem to have not gotten the point I was making. It is not about what I think about Saddle Brook, or if they have curfews, or even if I think they are all the worst or best people on the planet. It is about generalized statements that do nothing but cause antagonism and hatred. It is not productive and takes away from the real issue which is the need for more police officers.
Curly Howard April 17, 2012 at 04:01 AM
FLResident98, sure today we do need more police officers but the fact is that the kids from saddle brook come here to brookdale park late at night and sit there with beer and drink and scream and bother everyone around there trust me ive seen it and heard it a couple times when i have driven by there to go back home. they think that they can get away with anything there because most cops in fair lawn know that no one over in that area of brookdale park would go hang out in the park so they don't check it as much as others but then again i still want to know why those 12 YEAR OLDS thought it be a cool idea to play with matches or something to that extent in fair lawn why not their own town? its like you going to saddle brook and lighting one of their playgrounds on fire whether it was by accident or on purpose and see what happens to you. I am positive that if you were younger around 12 years old and lit one of their playgrounds on fire they wouldn't drop the charges to a lesser extent like fair lawn did. fair lawn only did that so they wouldn't get sued for another thing. they are too worried about keeping clean after what happened with the police Sergeant Messina and others. they just dont want to deal with another law suit by anyone whether it be a municipal worker or a citizen of the town or any other town. this is the only reason why they do not want to charge the kids with any degree of arson and make the parents of the kids pay for a new playground.


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