Fire destroys home in lake community

| 22 Feb 2012 | 08:44

Family of nine loses everything in blaze that burned while they were out, By Beth Kalet Lake Neepaulin — A family of nine lost their home to fire Saturday, in a blaze that brought a dozen fire companies to this Wantage Township community. The fire was quelled by water from nine tankers and also, with the help of neighbors, with water pumped from the lake. The Bimbi family was not at home at the time. One injured firefighter was taken to St. Clare’s Hospital and treated for heat exhaustion, but released. A neighbor called in the alarm at about 10 a.m., according to Wantage Fire Chief Charley Rokosny. Sussex and Wantage firefighters responded to find heavy smoke and fire shooting through one side of the roof, he said. They called in mutual aid from neighboring companies in New Jersey and New York, including the Byram squad, with its air truck, used to fill the airpacks firefighters use to breathe inside fire sites. The heat of the day made fighting this fire more difficult, Rokosny said. Heat buildup in the house forced firefighters out after their initial entry. They worked ladders around the property to gain better access. While the fire was considered under control within about two hours — by about noon — it took until 5 p.m. before Rokosny could consider work complete there. The County Fire Marshall, County Prosecutor’s office and NJ State Police were all called to the scene. The cause and the origin of the fire are under investigation, Rokosny said. On scene The Ladies Auxiliaries from Sussex and Wantage townships provided water, Gatorade and sandwiches to all who worked the scene. Among those on hand were: From Wantage, the Colesville and Beemerville departments; the Sussex Department; Frankford Township; Hamburg; Hardyston’s fast team, a specialty unit; Pochuck; Byram; Lafayette; Unionville, N.Y. Several departments sent trucks to serve as backup to towns that had sent their vehicles. Among those: McAfee, Franklin, Montague, Branchville and Hampton. Neighbors pitch in When the Bimbi family returned to the area, they were asked to stay at a neighbor’s house, Wantage Chief Rokosny said, “We had the road shut down with our fire police, not letting anybody in.” The home, he said, “was a loss.” Friends of Lake Neepaulin has established a relief fund for Keith and Carol Bimbi and their seven children. The Bimbis are members of the Friends group, also known as FOLN. Contributions can be sent to the FOLN-Bimbi Relief Fund, c/o Lakeland Bank, 455 Route 23, Wantage, NJ 07461. Donations can also be deposited in any Lakeland Bank in Sussex County. Checks should be made payable to the FOLN-Bimbi Relief Fund. Contributions are totally tax deductible; FOLN is a 501 c(3) organization. For questions or additional information, call 973-702-0569 or 973-702-8087.