Posts Tagged ‘Ocean Grove fire 3/3/17’

The Warrington Hotel. October 21, 2016. Paul Goldfinger photo.  ©    A work crew was cleaning up the property. They also had been removing siding and hammering inside.  Click photos to enlarge.


Warrington. October 21, 2016. Paul Goldfinger photo. ©  Park View site is in the foreground.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.net

A 59 year old Grover, let’s call him Mike, was awakened at 5 am on March 3, 2017, when he saw orange lights outside his window. He rents an apartment on Seaview Avenue, nearly adjacent to the Warrington Hotel.

He looked out  and realized that fire was coming out of the hotel’s windows.   “The fire was roaring out of the Warrington.”

He called 911 at 5:09 am and raced out of his rented apartment.   “A wall of fire was coming straight at me,” he said.

His email to Blogfinger said, “It took me 5 minutes to get the cats and my backpack. As I was running out of my door on the northwest side of the 2nd floor hallway the windows of Apartment C  (16 feet from me) were shattering from the heat.”

Mike said that he had been worried about the Warrington recently because workers had “removed all the siding and all the sheet rock, which left the building filled with fuel.”  He was referring to the bare wood framing which he could see through the building’s windows.   “That 4-story empty wooden box was a perfect engine for the fire which shot out of the windows like a jet engine.”

He theorizes that the fire, “which  moved extremely fast might have been slowed down somewhat if the siding and sheet rock had not been removed.”

Neighbors had been noticing that 2 or 3 workers would come each day for weeks to remove siding and to work inside the building. I myself had heard the hammering and had seen workers on October 21, 2016, when I went there to see what was going on and to interview a Seaview Avenue home owner about the situation.(see Blogfinger photos).

There was a dumpster on the Lake Avenue side, and they had placed a path from the hotel east to where they could remove their trash around past the La Pierre Condominiums to the street. A permit was in the window on the porch.  That was for the limited demolition which was ongoing.

According to Mike, the workers who had been hammering inside the Warrington also “disabled the alarms inside.”

Clean-up at the Warrington. October 21, 2016. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

Mike had noticed “squatters” inside the building, so he thinks that a wayward cigarette may have been responsible. But he said that he believed that arson may have caused the conflagration, and he had some other worrisome theories as well which we will not relate at this time.  Mike did not mention any explosion.

He told us that he had heard that the owner of the Warrington had given up on the hotel plan and hoped to demolish the building. We have no verification of that, in fact, the Zoning Board of Adjustment secretary told us that the demolition theory was not true.

As expected, Mike is very angry. He feels as if the fire was aimed personally at him, and he believes it could have been avoided.   He has already spoken to a Neptune police detective and he is awaiting a call from ATF.

Meanwhile he is staying at the Hotel Asbury which offered assistance to fire victims.  98 people were displaced by the fire according to the APP.

Here is a Blogfinger review of the Warrington’s history.  It makes reference to recent fire risk concerns:

Warrington history on Blogfinger

SKYLAR ASTIN AND ESTER DEAN  “Since U Been Gone.”  From the original soundtrack of the film Pitch Perfect.


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26 Lake Avenue. Ocean Grove, New Jersey

The article below is our original 2012 coverage of the amazing restoration of 26 Lake Avenue, located at Seaview, Lake, and Founder’s Park.  By a miracle, it was unscathed (as far as we know.)  But so many readers have been wondering about it since it appears in most of the videos and photographs from the 3/3/17 fire.  It reminds me of the Woody movie “Zelig.”


By Paul Goldfinger, editor @Blogfinger

When Brian Kenny, a master carpenter for thirty years, first saw the c. 1880’s house at 26 Lake Avenue, he observed that the building would need a “major ground-up restoration” of all three floors and that the historic house had great bones –“it was straight as an arrow.”

The building had experienced many alterations over the years, so there were major design challenges. The Beersheba Award presentation, written by Ocean Grove historian Jenny Shaffer, described the house as “quirky.” She said, “As is typical in Ocean Grove, 26 Lake had been altered over the years, and presented an odd, at times bewildering, mixture of forms and styles: it is a sort of Classical Revival meets Foursquare house with a Queen Anne-ish porch.”

The owner of 26 Lake, Peter Barbur, an attorney, had hired a San Francisco architect, Kurt Melander, with Victorian home-design experience, to draw up the plans. Those plans required that all materials be “eco-friendly.” In addition, every aspect had to be historically accurate (using old postcards and existing details for guidance), and every component had to be approved by submitting “shop drawings” to the architect. The concern for the environment transcended the entire restoration, which was just completed after 15 months of work.

Only the best materials were to be used, including clear vertical grained cedar siding, solid wood columns, hand-made moldings, special double-hung windows from Canada, FSC certified lumber from approved forests, copper flashings, “reclaimed” bluestone for the patio (from a cemetery walkway) and specially designed fireplaces for the reworking of the two originals.

Most of the wood features in the house were made by Brian Kenny in his shop in Asbury Park. He is very particular about the small details of his work. He uses only stainless steel fasteners, and all the wood is pre-treated. Kenny’s company has won Beershebas several times in the past, and he is the owner of the “Great Atlantic Porch Company.”

The heating and cooling of the house is provided by a super-efficient geothermal system that derives energy from under the ground. The owner loves to cook, so there is a raised herb garden on one side. On the other are large vegetable and flower planters which were hand made by Kenny. As we walked around the property, he ran his hand over a curved section of molding. He used special tools to mill the various segments that were made to match original details.

As he bent over to pick a weed, he looked around and said, “You know, we also installed a rainwater collection system. All the gutters and downspouts collect water which goes to two 3,500 gallon underground plastic tanks. A pump then provides irrigation to all the plants.”

Although the Beersheba Award was given for the outside, the interior, which we briefly saw, is spectacular and includes a large original stained glass window which is seen as one climbs a very beautiful staircase. You can see it from the outside, but the interior view (see photo below) shows all the colors.

The HPC was very happy with the result. Ms. Shaffer said, “The architects embraced and respected the building’s history. Moreover, they worked to discover lost aspects of this house through the detailed investigation of the visual resources available at the Historical Society.”

The two open porches and the enclosed one offer views of Wesley Lake and Founders Park. The Beersheba award calls 26 Lake “an imposing structure that once again anchors its corner, but, also, fortunately, has not lost the unique features that reflect its history of change.” We didn’t have the opportunity to speak to the owner, but he has to be thrilled with this yellow masterpiece with a red roof — now one of the great houses of Ocean Grove.

ANITA O’DAY  with a Duke Ellington tune which reminds me of the elegance of #26 Lake Avenue.

SLIDE SHOW: All photos by Paul Goldfinger. Run your cursor on the bottom to find a stop and go tool. Note that the gentleman on the 2nd floor porch is builder Brian Kenny.

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OG citizens want to preserve out town, but 80% of over 300 Grovers who participated in a poll said they cannot trust the local governance. Paul Goldfinger photo on Ocean Pathway.

OG citizens want to preserve our town, but 80% of over 300 Grovers who participated in a 2015 poll * said they cannot trust the local governance. Paul Goldfinger photo on Ocean Pathway.


By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

This issue is the first to emerge solo from our “Question Collection,” an open town-hall on-line site, on Blogfinger.net,  for Grovers and others to question events related directly and indirectly to the outrageous fire that erupted in Ocean Grove on March 3, 2013, with 7 structures destroyed or damaged.

For a number of years, we at Blogfinger.net  have been writing about a variety of disturbing behaviors on the part of the Neptune Township governing body, who have the power to rule with integrity or not in Ocean Grove, NJ.  There have been many articles and comments by citizens on Blogfinger.net wondering why special interests seem to have so much influence in our historic and beautiful town, to the detriment of those who actually live here.

Now, the issue has surfaced as the nauseating wreckage from the fire continues to smoulder and to bring serious concerns to the surface.  So here we go, moving to a deeper level, with the discussion below:

Citizen:     Who is running Neptune Township? Is it the Governing body or is it a shadow government with non-elected individuals, such as developers, manipulating elected puppets and telling them what to do? This is not unheard of in local governments.


Aggravated Curmudgeon:     Citizen: “Shadow government”? Where have you been? More often than not, local government consists of the developer, their lawyer, and the crooked town council that takes their money.

Yes, our elected officials have routine business that needs attention, e.g. police, fire, sanitation, tax collection, etc. But the important decisions are all about development of property.

These officials plan for the future like any business, and that means ensuring continued sources of money. I think that Ocean Grove is a big target because they can see the improvements in Asbury Park, the property values in Avon and Spring Lake, and see the opportunity. And we have so little influence because the votes are elsewhere. They want more rateables and higher property values, taking strain off the areas where the votes are. At our expense.—


Blogfinger:  And the way that these manipulators get what they want is through cynical abuse and violations of  NJ Land Use Law.  The elected officials make it happen while maintaining lack of transparency.  They get away with it because the checks and balances that usually pick up on these mechanisms have failed Ocean Grove.  The County and the State are too busy to get involved or they are conveniently looking away.  Why are our elected officials not representing us properly?  We don’t know for sure, but they should be removed from office.   But, as Curmudgeon points out, we don’t have the votes.

Kevin Chambers, Ocean Grove resident and leader,  has tried on his own, like a solitary super-hero, using his personal money, to litigate in court, but even that approach has failed, and he has turned his energies elsewhere.

And the Home Groaners Association,  which deserves our derision, has totally ignored these land use issues; in fact they sometimes become facilitators to the Neptuners and Grovers who want to exploit our town for financial gain. What are their motives at the HGA.?  Who knows?  We invite speculation on this.


Nov 2015 poll on Township Committee


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Cottage. Seaview Avenue. 3/4/17. By Stephen Goldfinger, Blogfinger staff. ©

Start the music and then look at the photos.    Cottage. Seaview Avenue. 3/4/17. By Stephen Goldfinger, Blogfinger staff. ©

Looking across to Seaview.  3/4/17. By Stephen Goldfinger, Blogfinger staff.

Looking across to Seaview. 3/4/17. Wind chill 17 degrees.  By Stephen Goldfinger, Blogfinger staff.

BOB DYLAN:  From his album Shadows in the Night   (Composer Irving Berlin)

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