Authorities investigating pair of Morristown fires; Red Cross says 10 people displaced

The Red Cross says five families were displaced by this early morning fire at Ridgedale Avenue in Morristown, Sept. 30, 2019.


Authorities are investigating a pair of early morning fires that displaced five families and damaged a law office on Monday.

Nobody was injured, but significant damage was sustained to a multi-family home at 65 Ridgedale Ave., and to the office of Nish & Nish at 163 Washington St.

Firefighters responded to this blaze on Washington Street in Morristown around 4 am, Sept. 30, 2019,

Because both fires appeared to have started outside the structures, the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office was asked to investigate, said Morristown Fire Chief Robert Flanagan.

Both investigations are “active and ongoing,” said Agent Paul Merkler of the prosecutor’s office. No further information was available, he said.

Later on Monday, a source told Morristown Green that evidence of an accelerant had been detected outside the law office.

Ten people from five families were displaced by the Ridgedale Avenue fire, said Diane Concannon of the American Red Cross New Jersey Region.

Fire damage to rear of home at 65 Ridgedale Avenue in Morristown, Sept. 30, 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Four of those families–seven people–are receiving temporary assistance from the Red Cross. The financial aid covers food and lodging for up to three days, Concannon said.

A passerby reported the Ridgedale house fire, near Route 287 and Abbett Avenue, at about 1 am, Flanagan said.  The back of the house was blazing when firefighters arrived. They were told someone was trapped inside, but everyone got out safely, the chief said.

Around 4 am, as firefighters were finishing at that scene, they were called to the Washington Street fire, where they spent the next four hours.

That fire appeared to start on the front exterior and travel up the side, into windows on the second and third floors, Flanagan said.

Fire damage at law office on Washington Street, Morristown, Sept. 30, 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

“Everybody did their part,” the chief said of the response. “Mutual Aid helped us out. Our guys went from one fire to the next. They did a great job. They were very aggressive” in knocking down both fires.

Morristown firefighters were assisted by fire departments from Morris Township, Morris Plains, Mendham Borough, Madison, Cedar Knolls and New Vernon. Atlantic Health’s EMTs also responded, Flanagan said.

The Washington Street address is the office of attorneys Robert Nish–former Morris Township municipal judge–and Noëlle K. Nish, his daughter, who also serves on the town zoning board. They could not be reached for comment on Monday.

Property records list the Ridgedale Avenue house as a three-family residence owned by KSF Holdings LLC of Morris Plains, at the address of Karim and Silvia Farag. Attempts to reach them on Monday were unsuccessful.

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  1. 5 families in a 3 family house? This is exactly why enforcement of stacking laws is extremely important.

    Allowing this illegal rental to operate, put all of these peoples lives in danger.

    If there had been loss of life in this fire, the municipality would have been at fault. Very lucky and fortunate that no one was injured.