UPDATE: A candle lit during the storm that hammered North Jersey on Tuesday likely caused the fire that killed an 83-year-old Waldwick woman, authorities said.
Results of the preliminary investigation indicate an unattended candle, lit due to a power outage, may have been the cause of the fire" that broke out around 6:40 p.m. on Van Court and killed Valentina Turley, Police Chief Mark Messner said Wednesday afternoon.
First responders in North Jersey rushed from one emergency to another, as the rainstorm threw a one-two punch of high winds and lightning.
Firefighters from Allendale, Franklin Lakes, Hawthorne, Ho-Ho-Kus, Mahwah, Midland Park and Upper Saddle River joined their Waldwick colleagues. The Bergen County Medical Examiner was summoned to make the pronouncement.
In Washington Township, a lightning bolt split a tree in front of Immaculate Heart Academy (see video above).
A tree fell onto a car on southbound Route 17 at the Ho-Ho-Kus/Allendale border, closing the right and middle lanes.
Witnesses said the driver got out of the car, which had its passenger side, part of the back seat and trunk crushed.
“The car looked terrible. He looked like he was OK,” one said.
A lightning strike ignited a car fire at Schumacher Chevrolet on eastbound Route 46 in Clifton.
Oradell Avenue in Paramus was closed in both directions after a tree fell outside Bergen Catholic High School.
Another fallen tree sent a victim to the hospital with a head injury and closed Old Hook Road near the Emerson/Harrington Park border.
A person was struck by a tree in Washington Township. At least two homes were struck in the township (see photo above).
Ho-Ho-Kus firefighters cut a driver from a car on Bernard Place after a tree fell on it and a house, which sustained extensive damage. The motorist was OK, responders said.
The tree fell just before 5 p.m., leaving the occupant trapped inside with live wires across the car, Ho-Ho-Kus authorities said. Once PSE&G arrived, firefighters removed the resident, who was checked out and cleared by EMS, they said.
Westwood also sustained several incidents:
- A tree fell across the NJ Transit tracks at the end of Kingsberry Avenue;
- Scaffolding fell off the front of Conrad’s and struck a car;
- Separate trees fell onto houses on Mountain and Summit avenues.
At one point, nearly 6,000 customers in East Rutherford, Carlstadt and Wallington were without power, as were 1,500 customers each in Midland Park and Ho-Ho-Kus, according to PSE&G. Various other outages were reported across North Jersey.
In Maywood, fire damaged a single-family home at 99 Grove Avenue (see video above).
"A tree and two utility poles fell, causing one pole to rest on a house," Police Chief David Pegg said. "An electrical primary wire came in contact with the aluminum gutter, energizing the metal. A fire then started at the roof line.
"Maywood firefighters could not attack the fire at first because of the house being electrically charged," Pegg said. "They were able to knock the fire down and extinguish it when PSE&G disconnected the power.
"The second floor and attic sustained fire, smoke and water damage."
Firefighters from Maywood, Hackensack, Rochelle Park and Saddle Brook responded, further assistance from Paramus and Lodi was received.
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LODI: Lightning struck a transformer on Essex Street near National Liquidators.
LYNDHURST: A small electrical fire was quickly doused in a commercial building at the corner of Ridge Road and New Jersey Avenue.
DEMAREST: A transformer fell onto Everett Road.
FAIR LAWN: A tree fell onto a house at Berkshire Road and 26th Street (see photos above).
RINGWOOD: A fallen tree closed Skyline Drive.
OAKLAND: A gust pushed a 200-pound dining seat across an outdoor deck (see video above).
FRANKLIN LAKES: A tree tore down wires and blew a transformer on Connie Avenue.
FAIRVIEW: A Fairview Avenue tree took down wires on Bergen Boulevard near Krause's candy store.
EMERSON: Trees fell on Overlook and Spruce avenues.
WEST MILFORD: Several downed trees and limbs closed a stretch of Union Valley Road.
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