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Fireplace Ashes to Blame for Shrewsbury Fire

The fire has been ruled accidental, according to the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office.

The four-alarm fire that burned through a century-old estate in Shrewsbury on Monday was caused by fireplace ashes that had been "improperly disposed," according to the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office.

The fire, which was ruled accidental, originated in a hall closet on the first floor where still-burning ashes cleaned from a fireplace had been placed, according to Charles Webster, a spokesman for the prosecutor's office.

Shrewsbury Fire Department Chief Peter Gibson said that the call came in around 1:15 p.m. Feb. 4 for a fire at 469 Sycamore Ave. When firefighters arrived, "There was heavy fire showing on the first floor," he said.

The cause of the fire was investigated by the prosecutor's office in conjunction with the county fire marshal and local fire officials, Webster said.

Volunteer firefighters and emergency rescue squads turned out from Shrewsbury, Northside (Tinton Falls), Little Silver, Red Bank and Eatontown.

The 7,042 square foot estate dates back to the late nineteenth century and according to county property tax records was owned by Jeffrey and Joan Rich. In 2012, it was assessed for $1,057,000.

Ray February 08, 2013 at 03:35 PM
Terrible.
commonman February 08, 2013 at 04:02 PM
why would someone take hot ashes OUT of a fireplace and put them in a closet??? either 1. they are morons 2. insurance job
David E February 08, 2013 at 07:28 PM
Wow, can you say negligent?
jill February 08, 2013 at 11:46 PM
I agree with the above comments. And we wonder why insurance rates are high?!
Momof4 February 09, 2013 at 01:58 AM
Have some compassion. This family just lost everything! The fireplace was cleaned out by a cleaning person, not the homeowner. Don't be so quick to judge.
rch February 09, 2013 at 06:08 AM
Agree..... First thing came to my mind was someone who didn't know better put the ashes there.. not the homeowners. Is it really necessary to post cruel comments when someone loses their home? Why not keep those comments for the criminals we read about on Patch.
jerseyswamps February 09, 2013 at 10:01 AM
Remember the Christmas fire in Connecticut last year? The woman lost her 2 kids and parents the same way. Fireplace ashes left inside the house.
Patience February 09, 2013 at 08:49 PM
Such a shame... a beautiful, historic home gone up in flames. What a loss for the family who lived there. My condolences to the family who owned this home.

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