Fire Inspectors Identify Origin Of Clairidge II Fire

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Verona’s fire inspectors have examined the July 3 fire at the Claridge II condominium and have classified it as “accidental.”

The first call about the fire came in just before noon on Monday, July 3. The Verona Fire Department, Police Department and Rescue Squad responded and they were later joined on the scene by nine other fire departments and 12 EMS services under the so-called mutual aid agreements in place between towns in our area. The fire prompted an evacuation of residents in the west side of Claridge II but resulted in few injuries. One person was transported to Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center for smoke inhalation and 39 first responders were evaluated at the scene.

According to the fire inspectors, the fire began in an electrical junction box in a locker in the 12th floor storage room on the building’s west side. The fire ignited the coating on electrical wires and the contents of the storage locker. There was also damage to contents of the 10th floor storage room on the west side where there had also been a fire, as well as smoke damage throughout fire rooms and connecting rooms and hallways, and water damage on floors 10 and 12. The VFD forced doors to the 10th and 12th floor storage rooms, as well as to a few nearby apartments. MyVeronaNJ obtained a copy of the inspectors’ report and the photos taken for it after filing an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request.

The report noted that the Claridge II building has a full fire alarm, partial sprinkler in the parking garages and a standpipe system. It said that the fire alarm had been placed on test on the morning of July 3, but that the Verona Fire Prevention Bureau had not been notified of that. When the Verona Fire Department arrived on the scene of the fire it tried to utilize the standpipe. But the report says that a corroded valve at the bottom failed and the VFD had to put in a ball valve as a temporary fix.

Residents of the west side Claridge II apartments were allowed back into their building on July 7. Some residents of apartments on the east side had also left the building because its elevators had stopped working the week before the fire. They returned after July 7.

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