Workers Sparked Massive House Fire, Never Called 911

EDGEWATER, N.J. (AP) -

Maintenance workers who sparked a fire that left 500 residents of an apartment complex homeless never called 911.

A review of dispatch logs and 911 tapes revealed no record of any employee alerting authorities as the AvalonBay blaze, which started when two workers tried to fix a leaky pipe, grew into an inferno on Jan. 21 in Edgewater. The fire destroyed about 500 apartments and 500 more were displaced from an adjacent complex.

Of the six 911 calls made to report the fire, none were made by AvalonBay employees, Edgewater Police Chief William Skidmore said. Instead, firefighters were notified by the automated fire alert system in the complex.

The delay was a factor in the enormous destruction, the police chief said. Officials also pointed toward the lightweight wood construction which enabled flames to spread quickly. Residents have filed three lawsuits.