11 February 1981
Friday fire rips Province Line Road home
For the second Friday in a row Lawrence firefighters battled a major blaze — again faced with the problem of having to stretch their lines a long distance to draw water.
On Jan. 30 firefighters fought an early morning fire which destroyed the Larchmont house on Route 206 and had to pump water a distance of 2,700 feet.
Friday’s fire, which ripped through the Province Line Road home of Scott and Hella McVay, destroyed the roof and second floor, which according to Lawrcncevillc Fire Co. Chief Earl Wilbur were “fully involved” when firefighters arrived shortly after the 11:01 alarm.
He said the fire also destroyed the first- floor kitchen and adjacent utility room, which housed an oil burner considered by the chief to be the “probable cause” of the fire.
The first floor of the stone and wood structure was damaged by smoke and water, but firefighters managed to carry out most of the furniture, he said.
According to Chief Wilbur there was about a 10-minute gap during which firefighters did not have water to put out the blaze. Three trucks containing a total of 3,000 gallons of water had been emptied, but the lines which had to be laid 4,700 feet to the nearest hydrant at Rosedale Road had not been connected yet.
HE SAID THAT the delay didn’t result in heavier damages, but hampered firefighters as it allowed the fire, which had been “knocked down.” to pick up again.
Firefighters carried out the furniture from the first floor while they waited for the water hookup, he added.
He said that attempts were made to draw water from a creek nearby the house, but there was no water.
The fire was declared under control close to noon. Firefighters remained at the scene until about 2:30 p.m., said Chief Wilbur.
According to Det. David Bums of the Lawrence police, the fire was reported by Mrs. McVay, who had stayed home on
Friday because a service man had been called to repair the oil burner.
Det. Burns said that Mrs. McVay was on the second floor of her home after the repairman left when she heard a “crackling noise” and ran outside and saw black smoke coming from the chimney. When she returned into the house, it was filled with smoke, she told the detective.
After finding her phone dead she ran to a neighbor to report the blaze, he added.
DET. BURNS SAID that Mrs. McVay told him that the repairman, contracted by Nassau Oil of Princeton, had been called because she observed black smoke coming from the chimney on Thursday.
The repairman, Harold Grine, according to Det. Burns, said that he came to the house at 8 a.m. and, after replacing the nozzle on the oil filter and checking the burner, left at 9 a.m.
Det. Bums said Mr. Grine told him the burner “appeared to be working properly” and that he didn’t sec any black smoke or “anything unusual” when he was leaving.
The Princeton Hook and Ladder Co. and Mercer Company No. 3 assisted the three Lawrence companies, said Chief Wilbur.
Firemen in waiting
Firefighters had to stand by and bear the frustration of holding an empty hose, waiting for the 4,700-foot piggy-back lines to be hooked up and funnel the water to battle Friday’s Province Line Road blaze. See page 2A.
(Mike Czajkowski photo)
Chief Ray Wadsworth of Princeton Fire Co. No. 3 calls for water as flames devour house yesterday on Province Line Road a mile from the nearest fire hydrant. Story, Page C1.