6 September, 1985
Artist Says His Dream Foretold Fire
by Barabara Perone
Abstract artist George Greene says he dreamt about a fire the night before his home was destroyed by one.
Early Tuesday writing. a fire destroyed Mr. Greene’s Mount Lucas Road ranch home, including more than $200.00 worth of his own paintings.
“I suppose it is a common occur-mix. I don’t’ know if it was ESP (extrasensory perception) or a premonition. but in my dream I saw a big glow in the horizon with great big flames leaping up. It was spooky.” said the 78 year-old Lambertville resident during a telephone interview.
It took 40 minutes for firefighters from three local fire companies to battle the blaze at the, single-story township home, according to Princeton Fire Chief Thomas B. Hagadorn. The fire was reported at 5:31 a.m. Tuesday.
In the aftermath of the fire, one neighbor claims that firefighter: were hampered by low water pressure in the area. But the fire chief discounts the claim.
Lee Johnson. a tenant at the home, is credited with discovering smoke in the kitchen and rousing Mr. Greene’s 54-year-old ex-wife Phyllis and her 13-year-old black poodle Nicholas. according to Mr. Hagadorn.
Mr. Johnson and Mrs. Greene escaped injury.
“She (Mrs. Greene) was quite fortunate. The fire spread rapidly and I’m not quite sure what caused it to spread that way. By the time we got there (in five minutes). it had already burned through the roof in one section of the house. Within 10 to 15 minutes the house was fully engulfed in flames,” the chief said.
Two firefighters were slightly injured. One was treated for smoke inhalation and a second treated for a bruised leg at the Medical Center at Princeton. according to Chief Hagadorn. Both were released from the hospital. He declined to name both firefighters.
Although the poodle was pushed out the window to Safety, the dog has been missing since Tuesday, according to Princeton Township police.
The house was destroyed down to the frame.
Chief Hagadorn. estimated the total damage to the home at “$300.000, not including everything else that was lost inside the house. ” In addition, a 1978 Toyota Corolla parked in the garage and valued at $2,000… was also destroyed by the fire, according to Mr. Greene.
The home was about to go up for sale as part of a divorce settlement between the couple. Mr. Greene said.
While the cause of the blaze is still unknown, it is being labeled as “accidental.” according to Chief Hagadorn. He said the fire started in a crawl space above the kitchen-dining room.
“We have not been able to determine what caused it and we probably won’t, but arson has been ruled out.” he added. Some 155 paintings of Mr. Greene’s were in the house. He said he was able to salvage only five paintings while sifting through the rubble at the house.
While Mr.Greene said he is “sorry to lose roughly 30 yeas: of rand.” he added he was not upset by the loss
“I don’t get too upset over the loss of possessions I’m more upset about my ex-wife and how she is taking it.” said the artist, who added his home was only insured for $160,000.
The painter said this is not the first time he has lost paintings in a fire.
A few years ago. he loss four paintings when a fire broke out in an art gallery in the Benson Building in Princeton. In 1935. many of his early works were lost in an attic fire at his parents’ New York home.
“I wish I could afford to insure my. paintings. but the cost is astronomical,” he said.
Even though none of the neighbors were evacuated as a result of the fire. one Mount Lucas Road resident claims firefighters had trouble getting water to extinguish‘he Naze due to low press ore. She said the problem has plagued that area of the township for 35 years.
“I live next door to the house that caught fire and the firemen had a heck of a time getting water. When they were setting up the hoses. I saw water running under the trucks.” said Polly Fairman of 103 Mount Lucas Road.
The water pressure is so low “that if you are using garden hose. you can’t run anything else.” Ms. Fairman claims.
The Princeton Township resident said her concern over the water problem was again sparked by the Tuesday fire.
”We were extremely lucky the wind wasn’t higher that day.” she added.
Chief Hagadorn said initially it took ‘awhile” to get sufficient water out of the first hydrant. The next two closest hydrants were a few blocks away, and it took time to lay out the hoses.
However, the water situation did not hamper efforts to fight the fire, according in to the chief. The firemen did request a “boost” front Elizabethtown Water Co., he added. “I know that minutes can seem to […] by like hours, but once we got the boost we got a good supply of water.
However. by that time the fire was really moving fast. There wasn’t much left to work with,” the chief said.
Princeton Township Mayor Pike agrees that row water pressure has been a “persistent” problem in that section of the township.
Other Mount Lucas Road residents said. however, they have never experienced any problems with low water pressure.
“We have a problem with the sewer backups once in a while, but as far as I know we don’t have a problem with water pressure.” said Dora Celli of 200 Mount Lucas Road.
“We always had good water pressure — enough so that I could squirt my grandchildren with it,” joked Frederick Wandclt Jr., a former Mount Lucas Road resident who now lives in Rocky Hill.
Thomas Cawley, vice president of the Elizabethtown Water Co., claims his firm has never received complaints from Mount Lucas Road area residents about low water pressure.
“This could be an individual problem. Sometimes if it is an old house, the diameter of the pipes is too small and that could affect the pressure, but I will investigate it.” Mr. Cawley said.