Soldering Torch Blamed For Harris Road Fire

August 13, 1993 (~estimated)

Soldering Torch Blamed For Harris Road Fire

To paraphrase Yogi Berra, It isn’t out ’til it’s out.

Seventy-five-year old Vincent Esposito learned that the hard way last week when the home he and his wife owned for 47 years at 9 Harris Road was gut-ted — probably beyond repair — by fire. Neither Mr. Esposito nor his wife, Lena, was injured by the blaze but Mr. Esposito apparently started the fire with a hand-held propane torch.

According to Lt. Mario Musso of the Township police, Mr. Esposito was using the torch to melt solder to repair an outside water spigot at the rear, of the house. It was around 2 p.m. Thursday when he noticed some shingles of his two-story house begin to smoke and smoulder around the spigot. He doused the area with water and believed the fire, small as it was, was extinguished.

Mr. Esposito then went back into the house to the basement. He was working there when about an hour and a half later he went outside to retrieve a pair of pliers he had left behind.

“Your House Is on Fire”

“What for?” asked Mr. Esposito when a passerby asked if he needed some help. “Your house is on fire.” the passerby replied, pointing to flames bursting through the pitched roof.

It was then that Mr. Esposito realized that the fire that he thought he had put out had smouldered and had spread up the wall of the house and ignited the roof. He called 911 at 4:35 and police sounded a general alarm, sending all three volunteer fire departments to the scene. Heavy gray smoke was billowing from upstairs windows upon their arrival.

Firemen chopped holes in the roof to allow water from their hoses to reach the fire inside. They had the fire under control by 5:10 but not before a large section of the roof on one side of the house had burned away. Much of the second floor was destroyed and the ground floor sustained extensive water damage. The rear of the house was almost completely gutted.

Although firemen were able to prevent the fire from reaching nearby homes, the Princeton Medical Center across the street had to shut down its external air circulation system for a period to prevent smoke from being sucked into the building. None reached patient areas but some did seep past the automatic doors at the main entrance.

Everything he and his wife owned was in that house, sighed Mr. Esposito. Fire officials said the house will likely have to be razed. Before he retired, Mr. Espostito had owned and operated a service station a block aware at the corner of Witherspoon and Henry streets.

Leave a Reply