2003-07-25 / Front Page

Resident’s cats perish in fire on Bath Avenue

Blaze started in rear
of two-family home; trapped woman and child
By carolyn o

Resident’s cats perish
in fire on Bath Avenue
Blaze started in rear


LINDSEY SIEGLE  EMT Guy Little carries a cat from the scene of a house fire on Bath Avenue in Long Branch Monday.LINDSEY SIEGLE EMT Guy Little carries a cat from the scene of a house fire on Bath Avenue in Long Branch Monday.

of two-family home; trapped woman and child

By carolyn o’connell

Staff Writer

LONG BRANCH — A fire that began in the kitchen of a Bath Avenue home trapped a woman and a baby on the second floor and caused the death of several cats and a pet rat.

Shortly after 4 p.m. Monday, the Long Branch Police Department responded to 425 Bath Ave. where a fire had begun in the rear section of a two-family house, according Second Assistant Fire Chief Mauro V. "Buzz" Baldanza.

The first firefighter to arrive at the scene was Lt. Doug Rowell with the uniformed paid division, who had been assigned to Station 6 on Norwood Avenue.

"When I pulled up to the house, I saw two people at a second-story window, a woman and a small child, with smoke coming out of the window" said Rowell.

Rowell’s first priority was to rescue the woman, Desiree Lowry, 26, and her daughter, Raven.

While Rowell outfitted himself with an air pack, city fire inspectors and volunteer firemen Anthony Tomaine and Stanley Midose set up a ladder to reach the second-story window and assisted Rowell in bringing the two to safety.

Lisa Ferrara, a tenant in a second apartment of the house, said she had smelled smoke and left the house with six others in tow.

In the meantime, uniformed division Firefighter Kevin Hoy, responding from fire headquarters on Union Avenue, began laying hoses in order to begin fire suppression.

The Fort Monmouth Rapid Interven­tion Team, as well as trucks from Station 3 in Elberon, Station 9 in West End, Station 7 from fire headquarters and Station 2 on Branchport Avenue, arrived to support firefighters who were fighting the blaze.

The blaze, according to Baldanza, was under control within 20 minutes, resulting in smoke and fire damage on the first floor and partially on the second floor.

Sgt. Frank Passantino, the first police officer on the scene, helped to rescue the 11 cats, two dogs and two pet rats.

"I was walking down the street when the fire started. The smoke was so bad I could see it pouring out into the back yard," said a neighbor, Anne Strollo. "It was unbelievable. Dead cats were carried out in plastic bags."

The last count, according to various officials at the scene, was that five of the 11 cats and one of the rats died due to smoke inhalation.

The animals were taken to the Long Branch Animal Hospital, Second Avenue, and Little Silver Animal Hospital, Little Silver.

The owner of the cats and tenant of the building, Denise Lowry, was overwhelmed with emotion as she stood by while emergency medical technicians used oxygen to revive some of the cats.

As firemen rested from fighting the blaze, Brian Valentino, a volunteer firefighter with Station 4, collapsed. In attempts to catch his fall, volunteer firefighter Ron Fitzpatrick, with Station 8 and the city’s fire department training officer, was injured. Both firemen were transported to Mon­mouth Medical Center, Second Avenue, for treatment and later released.

"The fire is being ruled as accidental," said Kevin J. Hayes Sr., senior fire official.

According to Hayes, one of two appliances, a toaster or a coffee maker, was the cause of the fire.

Hayes said that no smoke detectors were found in Lowry’s unit, and the adjoining apartments had smoke detectors that were inoperable.

Lowry’s apartment was deemed uninhabitable and the family was assisted by the Red Cross in finding temporary housing.

Sandy Carpello contributed to this story


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