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Mahwah fire destroys trailer home, elderly couple escapes

Photo Credit: MAHWAH FIRE DEPARTMENT
Photo Credit: MAHWAH FIRE DEPARTMENT

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A neighbor led a Mahwah couple in their late 80s to safety from an overnight fire — believed caused by several linked extension cords — that destroyed their trailer.

The woman, 87, tried to rescue the three couple’s cats but was unable to get to them because of the flames, Mahwah Police Chief James Batelli said. All three died, he said.

Emergency workers found the front of the home engulfed just after midnight at the Bogert’s Ranch trailer Park on Pulis Avenue, Batelli said. Mahwah firefighters quickly put down the blaze, preventing it from spreading to other homes.

Henry Vriesema, 89, told police he’d “just finished warming up food in the microwave when he smelled something burning,” Batelli said. “He initially thought he had burnt his food but the smell of smoke became stronger.”

From out the window of his living room he could see “sparks and large flames” shooting from the front.

Both he and his wife were taken to The Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, where they were met by their son, the chief said. Both seemed to be OK and will be staying with relatives for now, he said.

Sgt. Michael Blondin, his department’s award-winning arson investigator, determined the cause as electrical, Batelli said.

“The trailer was declared a total loss,” the chief said.

Built in the 1940s, Bogert’s Ranch is a collection of 135 or so homes that together are considered a little village.

PHOTO, ABOVE: Courtesy MAHWAH FIRE DEPARTMENT

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