By Paul Goldfinger, Editor at Blogfinger.net
It has been nearly a month since the March 3 fire, but the Coaster woke up on March 23 and published a front page story wondering if the Ocean Grove fires in recent years might represent a “pattern” due to a “serial arsonist at work.” Their article is just a repeat of the speculation that was reported in the days after the Warrington fire. (You can search Blogfinger regarding the March 3 fire by using our search box at the top right corner of the blog.)
The lead Coaster headline asks “Ocean Groves Fires: Coincidence or Not?” The Coaster interviewed an OG realtor who said that the fires were “very suspicious and need to be investigated.” No kidding!
As expected, the investigation results for the March 3 fire are not yet being released, although, so far, apparently there is no evidence to suggest foul play. Typically, the authorities never make public announcements about their fire investigations.
Over 90 people were displaced from their homes, and some of them are busy hiring lawyers to look into the matter. One of the victims told us that he sustained serious lung damage during the event and he is relentlessly investigating the situation himself, including pursuing research about the owner of the Warrington whom he holds responsible for leaving such a vulnerable building to deteriorate while exposing the neighborhood to fire risk.
A few years ago, the owner of the Warrington made offers to buy the properties of 3 of the homes that were destroyed in the fire (25 Seaview, 27 Seaview, and 29 Seaview.) Getting access to one of those lots would solve his “land-locked” problem in terms of getting permission to build. But each of those owners refused.
The Warrington owner had previously received permission to remodel the old Warrington Hotel, but after the fire, since the situation was now changed to build a new hotel on an empty lot, he was denied the building permits which he was seeking soon after the deluge.
As part of the Coaster piece, the President of the OGHOA, Barbara Burns, was interviewed. She said, “No one knows if this is a conspiracy or a coincidence.” It seems that she has been able to narrow down the possibilities to two.
“Burns also added that she does not believe Ocean Grove residents are overly concerned about fire.” Really?
She concluded with “I don’t think they worry on a day-to-day basis, but after a fire, certainly people think about it more. But I don’t think they feel unsafe living here.”
But would Ms. Burns feel that way if she had lived in the vicinity of the Warrington? Those people had been chronically concerned on a day to day basis, especially since their fears were ignored by the Neptunites at the Mother Ship. We know because BF interviewed one of those close neighbors in October, 2016*.
The same was true for that other fire risk beauty–the Park View Inn that stood rotting for years as the neighbors looked on with trepidation.
Here is a quote from that October, 2016 Blogfinger piece——link below* “He says that his neighbor, whose home borders the path that runs from Lake to Seaview, adjacent to the Warrington, has been “living in hell” due to the garbage, the crime, the safety and health risks, strange people peeking in his windows, the physical degradation of the Warrington, the congestion and other concerns.”
And here is a comment from Simon, one of the victims, who often complained on Blogfinger about his safety concerns at the Warrington:
Simon: “Now that WE lost our homes with all our personal items we had from many years, how do we get that back?
The Warrington…. my neighbor and I called Neptune concerned on the happenings, on what was taking place there, with less then little results. Sawbucks was called on what they were doing back there: 2 days a week hammering with no new lumber; also with no visible results.
“Now that we all are looking for places to live, it’s a little too late for responses. All the neighbors’ insurance companies are investigating the fire that started at the Warrington. I hope they have to pay back all the homes they burned down. Pay back from the insurance companies—- but it will never make the HURT go away.
“Also 4 animals had to pay the price and lost their lives. I wish someone could tell me what was it all for—was it for greed? People could have also died as a result. Thank God for that. My prays go out to all the other victims. I am rebuilding ASAP.”
And here is a recent communication from a nearby neighbor addressed to a fire victim: “The Warrington housed the disabled, mentally ill, and drug addicts. Drug trafficking was seen by the neighbors; afraid to say anything due to fear of retaliation. The State of NJ shut down the building—- never to open as a boarding house.
This was all told to the Neptune Zoning board meetings when the Warrington owners were filing for permission to build the HIGH CLASS HOTEL.. Past behavior predicts future behavior, so I gave a copy to the Board. No one listened. I went to every meeting. “
The investigation is led by the Monmouth County Prosecutors Office. We are told that the State Fire Marshal’s arson office has dropped out of the investigation. We know nothing about the Federal ATF review.
We will continue to watch for new information about that horrible March 3 fire. If you hear anything new, please email us at Blgfinger@verizon.net
NINO ROTA: “The Halls of Fear” from The Godfather.