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Township Officials Laud Firefighters For Work In Recent Forest Fires


by Patricia A. Miller

Were it not for the work of local firefighters, Town Hall, the Samuel E. Britton Law Enforcement Center and the township Public Works complex could have been in danger during the recent forest fires, Mayor Carmen F. Amato Jr. said.

"We were in jeopardy," Amato said at the May 5 Township Council meeting. "Luckily the wind shifted. It was like deja vu all over again, dealing with Sandy and now these fires."

It was only two weeks ago that township officials honored members of the Bayville Volunteer Fire Company, the Pinewald Pioneer Fire Company and the Manitou Park Fire Company for their work over the past year.

Later that week, two major forest fires broke out in Berkeley Township. The first, dubbed the "Continental" fire, ripped through more than 300 acres in the Pinewald section of the township. That fire has been deemed accidental, likely started by a cigarette.

"They did a great job," Amato said. 'It could have gone bad very quickly. We were fortunate enough to get it contained."

Several homes in the area had siding melt from the heat and smoke damage. Two sheds also had smoke damage. But no houses were destroyed and no one was injured either blaze, the mayor said.

The second fire - the "Crossroads" fire - started near the intersection of Pinewald-Keswick Road and Dover Road, less than a mile from the municipal complex on Pinewald-Keswick Road. Fire officials have deemed it arson.

Ironically, as officials were praising the firefighters at the May 5 meeting, a Berkeley Township police officer walked into the room and leaned down to speak with Police Chief Karin T. DiMichele, who was sitting at a table next to the dais.

DiMichele left the room, then returned. She kept checking her cell phone, then left the room for good. That was about the time the deadly South Toms River fire broke out. One woman who lived in the home at 96 South Main Street died in the basement.

The Berkeley-based Manitou Park Fire Company handles fires in South Toms River. All three Berkeley fire companies responded to the South Toms River fire. Six firefighters were injured as they fled the home just before a "flashover" occurred. The house was destroyed.


Working Stiff May 08, 2014 at 06:53 AM
Outstanding job, we are extremely blessed to have such talented and dedicated volunteers.

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