County Investigators Never Showed at ‘Suspicious’ Fire at Historic Home in Orange: Fire Chief

Seven Oaks Fire Orange
The historic Masonic Temple on Main Street also burned down in a series of fires happening around the city. Photo by Darren Tobia/Jersey Digs.

A “suspicious” fire that tore through the carriage house of a historic home in Orange couldn’t be analyzed for arson because county investigators never came, the Orange Fire Department said.

The structure, behind a 19th-century home at 408 Heywood Avenue, was located in the Seven Oaks Historic District, a middle-class enclave of Victorian homes.

Seven Oaks Park Orange
Entrance to Seven Oaks Park neighborhood. Photo by Jared Kofsky/Jersey Digs.

Fire Chief Derrick Brown told the city council that the fire was “very suspicious,” but the cause couldn’t be determined due to the county investigator’s no-show. The country, however, denies that claim.

The county was “not alerted to a suspicious fire,” said Katherine Carter, public information officer.

The Seven Oaks Park neighborhood was named after a town near London, England, where the grandfather of philanthropist Samuel Colgate was from. The Colgates live in a 29-acre estate built in 1857 that was later demolished, Jersey Digs reported. The city’s website calls it the “highest quality of housing and neighborhood amenities in Orange.”

Preservationists are also mourning disasters happening at historic sites in other parts of the city, including at 551 Lincoln Avenue, built in 1900. Arguably the greatest loss to the city was a fire at the Masonic Temple at 235 Main Street, which was notable as the first union to allow black masons to become members. What was left of the rusted-brick landmark built in 1886 — with an iconic six-story tower — was demolished.

“It seems it started in the sign above the YummyYo’s restaurant,” Brown said. “Due to all the collapse that happened there, they couldn’t have an internal investigation for arson.”


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