WESTFIELD, NJ — The Westfield Fire Department was told by a Westfield building inspector that the Wychwood Gate House could be repaired, Westfield Deputy Fire Chief David Kelly told The Alternative Press, though after the multiple alarm fire Dec. 6 “The damage was very extensive,” he said.
The blaze burned through the back side of the house and through the roof assembly, he explained.
“We were able to determine that the fire was accidental,” said Kelly. The department found that the fire started in the area of a wall switch for an exterior light on the East Broad Street side of the home. From there, the fire traveled through an open stud channel that went from the first floor up to the roof assembly.
The call came in to the fire department at 7:19 p.m. Friday night, about 45 minutes after passers-by started noticing a heavy smell of burning in the area, Kelly said. Firefighters arrived at the historic house, located the corner of East Broad Street and Wychwood Road, at 7:22 p.m.
Fire was visible on the first floor, second floor and through the roof on the East Broad Street side of the home, according to Kelly. Mutual aid was called in. The smell of smoke permeated the neighborhood.
The fire was brought under control by 10:21 p.m., Kelly said. No one was injured fighting the fire and the home and the home was vacant when the fire started—its new owners had not yet moved in.
Units remained on the scene overnight to maintain a fire watch, Kelly told The Alternative Press. There were hot spots, and firefighters needed to make sure the fire wasn’t rekindled.
One of the home's owners, Courtney Schael, 50, of Westfield was arrested at the scene after she assualted three police officers. To read that story, click here.