Fire inspector rules cause of East Brunswick barn fire ‘undetermined’

Staff Writer

EAST BRUNSWICK–Firefighters from the Brookview Volunteer Fire Company in East Brunswick and the Milltown Volunteer Fire Department responded to a fire that severely damaged a barn on New Year’s Day.

“We had the fire under control in about 10 minutes and [the] fire was completely out in 25-30 minutes,” Kevin Umbach, chief of Brookview, said about the fire at 312 Riva Ave. on Jan. 1.

The company figures that the barn was built in the early 1900s, according to Umbach.

“While responding to the scene, my assistant chief was informed by our dispatch that we had a confirmed fire. [The] Milltown Volunteer Fire Department was requested for their ladder truck in the event it was needed,” Umbach said. “Ultimately the ladder was not used but I put the Milltown firefighters to work helping to extinguish the fire. East Brunswick Fire District No. 1 [which is served by Old Bridge Volunteer Fire Department] sent an engine to the scene for assistance at my request.”

Fire Marshal John Talbot said a passerby noticed the fire and banged on owner John Jaskowski’s door, who then called 911.

“The structure [of the barn] did not burn down. It is still standing,” Talbot said.

Most recently, the barn was being used as a garage. According to a report by Fire Inspector Joseph Kotora, the cause of the fire is listed as undetermined; however, officials are investigating if heat from Jaskowski’s tractor, which was in close proximity inside the garage, possibly ignited a piles of leaves, potentially causing the fire.

Contact Vashti Harris at