One cold fire for Morristown’s Bravest and Finest


So you want to be a firefighter, eh?

It looks glamorous in the movies. But late on a Wednesday night when the mercury is sliding south of freezing and black ice is everywhere, almost any other job seems preferable.

The call to 49 Wetmore Ave. in Morristown was pretty routine, if any fire can be called routine. It started around 10:45 pm in a front room on the third floor of the three-apartment house and was extinguished quickly.

There were no injuries, said Mayor Tim Dougherty, who lives in the neighborhood and was on the scene.

firefighters at Morristown fire wetmore ave
Morristown firefighters on Wetmore Avenue after extinguishing a third-floor fire on Wednesday. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

James Sandham, 24, had been preparing for bed on the second floor when he heard a “rumbling and beeping sound” directly overhead, like “someone trying to stomp out a fire.”

An upstairs neighbor ran down and yelled, “Evacuate, there’s a fire!,” said James, who had to make other arrangements for the overnight because of smoke and water in the front half of the house. He planned to stay with his girlfriend’s family in Montville. Nine tenants inhabit the building, he said; a resident from the upstairs apartment declined an interview request.

Police Sgt. Matthew Rawding and Patrolmen Rich Rispoli and Adam Khoudja were first to arrive. They entered the front apartment and made sure everyone was out.

Morristown firefighters were backed up by a rapid response unit from Cedar Knolls. Details about what caused the fire were not immediately available, which was a relief of sorts. Pens and pads don’t work so well on midnight in a February freeze.

Imagine wrenching open a hydrant and lugging hoses up three flights of stairs on such a night.

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Morristown firefighters extinguished a fire on third floor of this Wetmore Avenue apartment house on Wednesday night. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
fire on wetmore in morristown
Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty, left, observes scene of fire on Wetmore Avenue. Fire Capt. Jimmy Schultz is in the foreground. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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Firefighters broke these windows to vent smoke from fire on Wetmore Avenue on Wednesday night. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
firefighter emerge from wetmore fire morristown
Morristown firefighters emerge from third-story fire on Wetmore Avenue on Wednesday night. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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