An eviction fight in New Jersey ended in a deadly blaze Wednesday when a woman deliberately ignited a fire in a house she shared with dozens of cats. She was refusing to vacate as part of her fight against the eviction process.
According to authorities, the woman and dozens of cats perished in the massive fire that broke out shortly after 11 a.m. in Roosevelt. There had been an eviction notice served to the unidentified woman by the state police, but she refused to leave and threatened to blow up the house instead.
New Jersey State Police, Lt. Lawrence Peele, told reporters of there being reports that the woman turned on the gas before starting the fire.
As the police engaged the woman in a stand-off, the neighbouring houses were evacuated. It is believed that a number of fire departments responded to the fire, but they were unable to save the woman’s life. In addition, no other injuries were reported as a result of the incident.
She was the sole occupant of the house, which is located on Cedar Court, and had lived there for some time. An attached home, which used to be filled with cats once upon a time, has been completely destroyed and is uninhabitable. As a result of the fire, Emma Quackenbush, who had lived in the attached unit for 22 years, was left homeless, as she had lost everything that she owned in the massive blaze.
Other neighbours congregated outside the scorched residence and told the media outlets at the scene that the woman’s boyfriend has been trying to evict her for several years, but his attempts have been hindered temporarily by Governor Phil Murphey’s ban on evictions during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Roosevelt Mayor Peggy Malkin, in an interview, told the press that the woman was an animal caretaker and had built a cat house for the animals to live in separate quarters for the duration of their stay.
As of right now, there is no way to tell how many cats were killed in the fire. In light of the home’s unsafe structure, officials urge people to stay away from the house as authorities continue their investigation.
See the video below for more about the deadly fire: