New Jersey woman fighting eviction blows herself up in house full of cats, during standoff with State Troopers
State police had served the unidentified woman an eviction notice but she refused to leave and threatened to blow up the house
Her fight against eviction ended in a deadly blaze Wednesday when she intentionally started a fire in the home she shared with dozens of cats and refused to vacate
Roosevelt mayor said the woman refused to move out after the owner recently begun eviction proceedings because he wanted to sell his house
A woman’s fight against a home eviction in New Jersey, destroyed the home and herself and the home with intentional arson on Wednesday, March 1. The woman who was the sole occupant of the rental property intentionally started a fire in the home she shared with dozens of cats and refused to vacate.
The woman and the cats died in the massive fire, which broke out shortly after 11 a.m. in Roosevelt, New jersey State Police said.
The woman who had lived in the property home for about ten years, ran a pet sitting service. She had built a separate structure for the dozens of cats in her care.
Authorities in Roosevelt said the woman would not move out of the house and the home owner recently begun eviction proceedings because he wanted to sell the property.
The woman was served an eviction notice but refused to leave.
State Troopers responded to the house, but a standoff ensued. The female tenant threatened to blow up the house, which led to neighbors being evacuated, police said.
“We’re getting reports that the resident turned on the gas of the residence prior to igniting,” Lt. Lawrence Peele of the state police said.
Neighbors were evacuated while police SWAT team 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 the outlet.
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, a neighbor who lived in the attached unit for 22 years, says 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. The animals it is believed also perished in the fire.