Roosevelt, NJ woman fighting eviction blows up self in house full of cats after refusing to leave residence. Woman dies in explosion.
A NJ woman fighting eviction on Wednesday blew herself up in a house full of dozens of cats. The fiery explosion came after the woman refused to vacate the property upon Marshalls arriving at the property in Roosevelt.
The unidentified woman and dozens of cats died in the massive fire, which broke out shortly after 11 a.m. in Monmouth County, authorities said. Sources said the woman turned on the gas in the house, then lit a match.
The home was described as being a shell of what it once was, with the roof and walls completely charred.
State police had served the unidentified woman an eviction notice but she refused to leave and threatened to blow up the house.
‘We’re getting reports that the resident turned on the gas of the residence prior to igniting,’ New Jersey State Police Lt. Lawrence Peele said, according to CBS News.
Female renter described as pet-sitter who built ‘cat house’ for animals to live in
Neighbors were evacuated while police had a standoff with the woman. Multiple fire departments responded to the home but were unable to get the woman out alive. No other injuries were reported.
‘They knocked on our door this morning. Thank God it was a pretty loud knock. I grabbed [my son]. They told us to leave. She was threatening with a bomb or to bomb the house and ended up with a fire,’ one neighbor, Erin Luca, told CBS News.
The woman was the sole occupant of the house, located on Cedar Court. The once-cat-filled home is completely charred and an attached home is unlivable.
Emma Quackenbush, who lived in the attached unit for 22 years, told New Jersey 101.5 she had lost everything in the fire.
‘It looks like my house is gone. It’s still standing but it’s not livable,’ Quackenbush said.
Other neighbors gathered outside the scorched residence told the radio station that the woman’s boyfriend had been trying to evict her for several years, but his efforts were hindered temporarily by Gov. Phil Murphey’s pandemic-era eviction moratorium.
Roosevelt Mayor Peggy Malkin told the Asbury Park Press that the woman was a pet-sitter and had built a ‘cat house’ for the animals to live in separately. It’s unclear how many cats perished in the flames.
Malkin said that the owner wanted to evict the woman, who had lived there for several years, in order to sell the house.
PSE&G was excavating at the scene overnight as authorities continue to investigate. Officials are asking people to stay away from the home as its structure is not secure.