Union County News

Two Die Following Early Morning Home Fire in Berkeley Heights

Early morning fire in Berkeley Heights originated in basement, said Deputy Fire Chief Jim Hopkins. Credits: RLS Media
Credits: RLS Media

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Two people died and a third is in critical condition following a fire at a home on Orion Road in Berkeley Heights Thursday morning.

The first call came into police at 12:47 a.m. from a neighbor reporting the smell of smoke in  area. While police and firefighters were on their way to the fire, a second 9-1-1 caller said there was a structure fire at 104 Orion Road, said Police Capt. Robert Deitch.

When police arrived, they found heavy smoke coming out of the home and forced the door open but were unable to enter the home. Neighbors told police that two elderly people were in the home. 

Sign Up for E-News

When Berkeley Heights firefighters arrived, they were able to enter the home, find an elderly woman and a live-in home health aide on the first floor, the elderly man on the second floor and take them out of the home, where CPR and other medical assistance was administered to each. They were transported to Overlook Medical Center, where the man and woman were pronounced dead. The female home health care aide was reported to be in critical condition.

The names of the victims have not been released by police.

Deputy Chief Jim Hopkins said he and Fire Chief Anthony Padovano were the first to arrive at the scene of the fire at 12:56 a.m., followed immediately by the ladder truck.

The crew from Engine 4 found the first victim quickly, and firefighters performed CPR on her. Shortly after that, the second victim was found and brought outside where firefighters rendered first aid.

The firefighters from New Providence found the third victim on the second floor, as they swept the home to make sure no one else was inside, he said.

The fire was found in the basement and extinguished.  The cause of the fire is being investigated.

Chatham Township and Summit Fire Departments also responded to the scene.

"Numerous EMS crews responded, including Berkeley Heights, Summit, Long Hill, Watchung, Chatham and County," Hopkins said. Atlantic paramedics, an Atlantic Supervisor and the County EMS coordinator were also on the scene.

Berkeley Heights EMS had two rigs respond to transport two patients and a third patient was transported by Watchung EMS. 

Two firefighters were injured and transported to the hospital by Chatham EMS. "One had a serious hand injury and suffered from smoke inhalation. The second had a hand injury," Hopkins said.

Berkeley Heights Rescue Squad along with the others units also provided firefighter rehab on scene during the fire.

"There were no working smoke detectors in the house, which breaks my heart," Hopkins said.  The department has a full supply of smoke detectors with 10-year batteries acquired especially for older residents, so they don't have to climb ladders to change batteries every six months, he said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Berkeley Heights Fire Department and Union County Arson Squad. This is not deemed to be suspicious at this time, Deitch said.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Scotch Plains Man Survives Rollover Accident

March 21, 2018

FANWOOD-PLAINFIELD, NJ — A 67-year-old Scotch Plains man survived an accident that totaled his car at the busy intersection of South Avenue and Terrill Road late Tuesday afternoon. 

The driver had difficulty negotiating the turn from Terrill onto South, hit a tree and flipped over, according to Fanwood Police Chief Richard Trigo. 

Police, fire fighters and EMTs ...

Mayor Brindle’s Update, Feb. 13

March 14, 2018

The following are highlights from the update that Mayor Shelley Brindle gave at Tuesday night’s town council meeting.

Last week’s back to back nor’easters left a wave of destruction that Westfield hasn’t experienced since Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Three thousand homes lost power. Over 40 roads were closed due to downed wires and/or trees. Our police responded to ...

Upcoming Events


Fri, March 23, 12:00 PM

Resolve, Scotch Plains

Free Teen Anxiety Group (Ages 14-17) at Resolve


Sat, March 24, 10:00 AM


March for Our Lives - Westfield

Government Law & Justice

Sat, March 24, 10:00 AM

Burent Middle School , Union

Union County Wide - March for Our Lives

Government Law & Justice

Westfield Police Blotter: DWI, Reported Fraud & More

March 14, 2018

March 7, 2018 2:06 a.m.

Carlos C. Mendoza, age 33, of Garwood, NJ, was arrested on the strength of three Westfield Municipal Court warrants ($750) pursuant to a traffic stop in the area of South Avenue in Scotch Plains. Subject was transported to Westfield Police HQ where he was processed and refused after posting bail.


March 9, 2018 2:09 p.m.

A resident of Sandra Circle ...

Celebrate Holy Week at First Congregational Church

March 21, 2018

First Congregational Church invites visitors of all ages to observe Holy Week with special services beginning on Palm Sunday, March 25, and continuing through Easter Sunday on April 1, in the sanctuary at 125 Elmer Street in Westfield.

The Palm Sunday service on March 25 will begin with a traditional Palm Processional. Children are invited to meet in the Chapel Lounge prior to the 10 a.m.

'Trying' explores age, youth and points of history in poignant production

‘Trying’ explores youth, age and points of history in poignant production

By Liz Keill

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – The George Street Playhouse presents an engrossing, two-character play based on the real life of Francis Biddle, former Attorney General.

Biddle, a Harvard educated lawyer, served under Franklin Roosevelt and later Harry Truman during the Nuremberg Tribunal. His ...

Can I Change My Partner?

March 21, 2018

Couples oftentimes look to change the “other.” “If only” the other would make these changes, or do as I say, our relationship would be great. We tend to focus on the other. We tend to focus on changing the other. We tend to focus on the other’s negative behavior. Couples like to report what their spouse/partner is doing and how they are ...

16 Homes Sold Last Week in Westfield, Scotch Plains, Fanwood, Mountainside & Cranford

Sixteen homes sold last week, March 11 to March 18, 2018, in Westfield, Scotch Plains, Fanwood, Mountainside and Cranford:*


TOWN        ADDRESS                  STYLE           RMS    ...

Charitable Spirit Alive and Well in Westfield Public Schools

Students, staff and parents in Westfield Public Schools continue the district’s long tradition of helping others both in and outside of the community, with a number of students recently recognized for their efforts.

Fifteen Westfield High School juniors and sophomores were honored by the Community Food Bank of New Jersey for collecting more than 5,000 pounds of food items for families in ...


AtlantiCast: Episode 13

On this episode of AtlantiCast, new clinical studies in the fields of cardiology and immunotherapy, national and statewide recognitions for Atlantic Health System medical centers and the inaugural AtlantiCast Collab Challenge!


The Day After

Some years ago, the United Nations held the International Summit on Sustainable Development, here in Johannesburg. The Summit was a great success. One wonders, though, whether all the wonderful decisions and resolutions that were adopted were ever implemented. In other words, were they themselves sustainable?

Good ideas and worthwhile projects are suggested regularly. The question is, do they ...


Kathleen Marie Christian (nee Helmstetter), age 73 of Surf City, NJ, passed away peacefully at home ...
Read more

Suspended Hillsborough HS Athletic Director Charged with Theft

March 19, 2018

HILLSBOROUGH, NJ — Suspended Hillsborough High School Athletic Director Michael Fanizzi has been arrested and charged with the theft of $10,704 in athletic event receipts over a four-year period from 2013-2017, according to Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson.

Fanizzi, 53, a resident of Conover Way in Hillsborough who had been athletics director for 14 years, had been ...