They weren’t able to rule out electrical malfunction as a cause of Monday’s Rumson fire, but the tri-fold investigative team has determined that, regardless, it was an accident, Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office spokesman Charles Webster said.
There were “energized electric circuits or equipment” in the area of the fire’s origin, “in the area of a wall located between a guest bedroom and an en-suite bedroom, both located on the second floor” of the 19th century mansion dubbed Blithewald, a joint investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, Monmouth County Fire Marshal and Rumson Police Department determined, Webster said.
There were no injuries sustained from the six-hour, four-alarm blaze fought by several area fire departments at the 76 Buena Vista Avenue home owned by the Widener family.
Designers had been on site putting finishing touches on the home that was to be the centerpiece of the Visiting Nurse Association’s Stately Homes by-the-Sea Designer Show House event slated to kick off on Saturday.
The Sea Bright Fire Company has shared its view from a head cam of Monday’s Rumson fire at the Blithewald historic mansion via a post on its Facebook page.
In the post, the company’s representatives said that the release of the video on YouTube, they felt, would “not only give the public insight on what we do but will allow our brothers and sisters of the service an opportunity to better both themselves and ourselves in the future.”
No cause has been as of yet determined. The fire is under investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, Rumson police and the county fire marshal.
Take a look for a glimpse into the life of a local firefighter on the job. Firefighters have asked that the public excuse their language at some points.
The historic Rumson mansion known as Blithewald was all set for a Saturday Gatsby-themed gala to kick-off its month-long feature as the Visiting Nurse Association’s (VNA) fifth Stately Homes by-the-Sea Designer Show House — until a fire ravaged it.
The 19th century home to the Widener family, at 76 Buena Vista Ave., went up in flames on the upper floors and roof area at about 12:55 p.m., according to first responders at the scene.
As of 3:45 p.m., firefighters from several surrounding towns and beyond — Rumson, Fair Haven, Middletown, Red Bank, Little Silver, Sea Bright, Highlands, Atlantic Highlands, Shrewsbury and Asbury Park — were still arriving at what was still considered an active fire.
Smoke could still be seen billowing from the roof and upstairs. And firefighters were still on the scene at about 7 p.m.
There were no reported injuries, authorities said.
Fair Haven Fire Department thanked Tinton Falls Fire Co. No. 1 for covering Fair Haven while its firemen assisted at the Rumson fire.
The VNA released the following statement in the late afternoon:
Today, Blithewald, the house that designers, staff and volunteers have been preparing for the fifth edition of the Stately Homes by-the-Sea Designer Show House event to benefit VNA Health Group, caught fire and sustained heavy damage. The cause is unknown and we thankfully have heard of no injuries to anyone at this point.
We are tremendously grateful to the first responders and to our staff members and volunteers who were on the scene to respond to the emergency.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the first responders and the homeowners as they assess the damage.
Blithewald, a historic treasure from the Gilded Age, was the setting for the fifth edition of the Stately Homes by-the-Sea Designer Show House. Proceeds of tours and the Preview Gala were to benefit VNA Health Group.
We will provide updates about the Stately Homes-by-the-Sea Preview Gala that was scheduled for Saturday, April 25th and the opening of the Show House tours, which were scheduled to begin on April 28, 2015 as information becomes available.
This is a breaking news story. Rumson-Fair Haven Retrospect will add information as it becomes available.