Middletown Township Fire Department seal

MIDDLETOWN, NJ – At 06:30 AM Saturday January 15, 2022 the Middletown Township Fire Department responded to a residential structure fire at 3 Heather Lane where the homeowner suffered 2nd Degree burns to his hand(s) in an attempt to minimize and extinguish a fire located in a bathroom on the second floor of the residence.

Initially dispatched as a possible fire in a laundry basket, things rapidly escalated prior to the arrival of fire department personnel. First to arrive on scene; Deputy Fire Chief John Waltz followed by Assistant Chief’s Kane, Fulciniti, Kelly. Firefighters from Port Monmouth MTFD Station 6 & Old Village MTFD Station 11 immediately followed. All were met at the front door by a homeowner who had significantly burned his hands while trying to put out a fire in the bathroom on the second floor. Once they entered the structure they quickly realized, the fire was still burning in the bathroom, but was held in check by one simple act.

Suffering a fire in your home is a traumatic experience. That experience can trigger “a fight or flight” instinct that at times might cause people to make a poor decision, but with crippling heat, an overwhelming burning sensation to his hands and choking smoke; this homeowner made a very smart decision; that according to the Middletown Fire Chiefs and Township Fire Marshal, most definitely slowed the spread of fire and saved his home. That decision was to close the door to the bathroom, after fire conditions became too overwhelming.

When interviewed in the hospital by fire investigators, the homeowner burn victim credited the public safety announcement, made only a week earlier, by Middletown Fire Chief Bernard Chenoweth, Fire Marshal Buddy Skelly and others after the tragic fires in both Philadelphia and New York City, each stressing the importance of door closure during a fire.

Closing a door reduces the spread of smoke and flame; provides valuable time for occupants to escape and gives firefighters ample time during early suppression operations for a successful outcome.


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The incident Commander of this incident was Deputy Fire Chief John Waltz who upon arrival with Operations Chief (s) Fulciniti, Kane and Kelly directed medical care to the burn victim and directed firefighter suppression efforts.

Port Monmouth Station 6’s Quint 31-6-91 was the first to arrive and made rapid entry with a 1¾ attack line requested by command, as Old Village Station 11’s Engine 71-2-77 provided the water source. The Middletown Fire Department Safety Unit and Leonardo First Aid Squad completed the response, as this incident was held to the initial units assigned.

There were no firefighter injuries during this fire and the incident was declared under control within 15 minutes. Sadly, the homeowner did sustain 2nd Degree Burns to his hands was treated and transported by the Leonardo First Aid Squad to Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank.

The structure sustained smoke and soot damage to the upper floor but the fire itself never got beyond the room of origin due to the homeowner closing the door and a quick response by the fire department.

The fire was declared under control by Deputy Chief Waltz at 06:55 AM and all units were cleared from the scene by 07:30 AM.

Approximately 20 firefighters from 2 companies of the Middletown Township Fire Department responded to the call. Old Village Sta. 11, Port Monmouth Sta. 6 and the MTFD Safety Unit. The fire is being investigated by the Middletown Township Fire Marshall’s office under the direction of Fire Marshal Buddy Skelly.


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