'Suspicious' Fire Breaks out at Belleville Landmark
Firefighter hospitalized battling blaze at former cancer center Monday
A firefighter was treated for heat exhaustion Monday after he helped battle a blaze at the former Garden State Cancer Center in Belleville.
Belleville firefighters responded after receiving a report from Belleville police of smoke coming from the massive stone complex located at the corner of Belleville and Franklin avenues. The two-alarm fire, which was confined to a single room on the third floor, was brought under control around 6 pm, about forty minutes after firefighters arrived, Battalion Chief Michael Monahan said.
Firefighters working in shifts were seen climbing a ladder to a second-story roof and entering a window on the third floor of an adjacent eight-story building, the largest in the complex, where the fire broke out.
Also providing mutual aid at the scene were crews from the Bloomfield and Nutley departments.
The blaze broke out in a complex that has been vacant since its former owner, the Garden State Cancer Center, closed down last year. The building has since reverted to the County of Essex.
Trespassing has been a problem in the past at the facility and may have been a factor in Monday’s blaze.
“It’s a suspicious fire,” Monahan said, adding that the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office would be conducting an investigation.
Shortly before Thanksgiving the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders voted to auction off the 100-year-old complex, which sits on a huge open campus known as “the Great Lawn.”
The county expects to receive bids this month and is scheduled to review them early next year, a freeholder board spokesman told Patch last week.