HILLSBOROUGH, NJ - Investigators from the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office, township police department and township fire marshal continued their investigation yesterday at the site of Thursday's early morning fire that destroyed the expansive 19th century country retreat of "Diamond Jim Brady."
A 911 call at 3:59 a.m. alerted police and fire officials, with the first fire unit arriving at 751 River Road at 4:08 a.m., according to Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson, Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Chief of County Detectives John W. Fodor, and Hillsborough Township Chief of Police Michael McMahon.
The three-story structure, which featured a Widow's Walk on the fourth level, was full engulfed in flames.
In addition to Somerset County Fire and EMS Coordinators multiple fire companies responded to the two-alarm fire, including Hillsborough Fire, Montgomery Fire, Manville Fire, North Branch Fire, Raritan Fire, East Millstone Fire, Elizabeth Ave Fire, Country Hills Fire, Finderne Fire, Neshanic Fire, Three Bridges Fire, Middlebush Fire, Griggstown Fire, Green Knoll Fire, Readington Fire, Hopewell Fire, Bradley Gardens Fire and EMS, Branchburg Rescue Squad, and Robert Wood Johnson ALS.
No injuries were reported.
Investigators from the Somerset County Fire Investigation Unit (FIU), along with detectives from the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit, the Hillsborough Township Police Department, and the Hillsborough Fire Marshals are actively investigating the origin and cause of the fire, according to Robinson, who said no determination has been made.
The historical residence which was unoccupied at the time of the fire was undergoing renovations, according to Robinson.
Built in the Civil War-era, James Buchanan "Diamond Jim Brady" purchased the home from a previous owner in the early 1900s.
It was one of the oldest, and most historic buildings in the township.
The building had a colorful history over the years; after Brady moved on, it was operated as a private residence, hotel, convalescent center, boarding house and summer camp.
Robertson requests anyone with information to contact the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office at (908) 231-7100, or the Hillsborough Township Police Department at (908) 369-4323 or via the STOPit app.
The STOPit app allows citizens to provide anonymous reports including videos and photos. STOPit can be downloaded to your smart phone for free at the Google Play Store or Apple App Store, access code: SOMERSETNJ.
Information can also be provided through the Somerset County Crime Stoppers’ Tip Line at 1-888-577-TIPS (8477). All anonymous STOPit reports and Crime Stopper tips will be kept confidential.