GARWOOD — A 71-year-old Garwood man who was renting a home on North Avenue was killed Friday evening in a three-alarm fire that tore through the multi-family residence for several hours.
The Garwood Fire Department was dispatched to the 100 block of North Avenue at approximately 4:52 p.m. in response to a house fire.
According to police reports, the home’s first floor was “fully engulfed” by the time police arrived at the scene shortly after receiving the call.
A resident of the building, identified by police as Charles Riordon, was found dead at the scene near the suspected origin point of the fire. There were no other injuries reported. “The Garwood Fire Department along with additional fire departments throughout the county battled the blaze for multiple hours until ultimately the fire was extinguished later in the evening,” representatives from the Garwood Police Department said via social media.
“Units arrived within minutes to find fire showing from the first floor of the structure,” the Garwood Police Department said in a public statement. “Crews from Engine 3 quickly darkened the fire down from the exterior as they made entry through the rear of the building and stopped the fire from extending further than the first floor.”
The fire, which proved difficult to contain, escalated to a three-alarm event that was ultimately extinguished with the help of multiple fire, police, EMS, Hazmat and state agencies through the coordinated efforts of the Union County Mutual Aid program. Police Chief Douglas Stoffer confirmed that, “a small amount of ammunition” from Mr. Riordon’s personal gun safe was activated by the heat of the fire.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, police said Friday, but as of the time of publication, “there has not been any indication of foul play.”
“The Garwood Police Department would like to extend our thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of Mr. Riordon during this incredibly difficult time,” the police department said via social media on Friday.
Garwood Fire Chief John Scalzadonna expressed similar sentiments, adding that fire prevention strategies like planned escape routes and regular smoke alarm battery checks could help to prevent similar tragedies in the future.