UPDATED: Amwell Road Fire Called 'Suspicious'
Blaze guts structure whose owner has been trying to demolish to build an office building.
A Sunday morning fire that gutted a historic Amwell Road home whose owner—a Hillsborough fire chief—has been trying for years to demolish to build an office building is being treated as "suspicious," Hillsborough's chief fire marshal said.
"This fire is currently under investigation and considered suspicious at this time," Chief Fire Marshal Chris Weniger said.
Weniger referred all further questions to the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office, which is handling the investigation.
Capt. Jack Bennett, a spokesman for Prosecutor Geoffrey Soriano, said the investigation is ongoing and could not immediately release further details Sunday afternoon.
Bennett said Monday the investigation remained ongoing.
Hillsborough Mayor Carl Suraci said he could not provide many details, but believed the home was destroyed.
“From what I was told, the structure is not going to be able to be salvageable," Suraci said.
Fire companies from Hillsborough, Neshanic and Flagtown responded to the blaze, which broke out at about 7 a.m. Amwell Road between East Mountain and River roads was closed for hours while firefighters extinguished the blaze. The cause of the fire was not immediately known.
The single-family residence was built in the 1800s and has been vacant for nearly a decade, neighbors said.
John Lazorchak, who owns the home and the adjacent JML Landscaping, has been trying to demolish the structure and build a 6,700-square-foot office building.
However, the Historic Preservation Commission has denied the request, which Lazorchak has appealed.
Lazorchak's appeal was remanded back to the Zoning Board in January.
Lazorchak, who is the chief of the Neshanic Fire Co., could not immediately be reached for comment on Sunday.
A voicemail and email for Lazorchak's attorney, Michelle Lamar, were also not returned Sunday.
Patch will continue to update this story.
Gerard Longo and Mike Dennis contributed to this report.