Workers who started Edgewater apartment complex fire didn’t call 911

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EDGEWATER, N.J. (PIX11) -- Tarps are now on the fence surrounding the huge pile of rubble that used to the Avalon apartment complex in Edgewater, New Jersey.

But there’s simply no hiding the destruction here that rises ominously into the night and regrettably, there is no avoiding that fact that this building burned - untouched by water - for much longer than it should have on that cold January afternoon.

The Edgewater police chief confirmed to PIX11 News that not one Avalon employee, that includes the plumbers who accidentally started the fire in the first place, even bothered to call 911 once the flames broke out.

“I don’t know if that person is going to be able to sleep at night. But that person, for sure, had to call 911. I don’t know why that person wouldn’t call 911,” said Avalon resident Pedro Alvizua.

Firefighters had to get that notification from the building’s automated alert system. The obligation to do what may would consider to be ‘the right’ thing surely exists in other scenarios.

The disgraced captain of the sunken cruise ship Costa Concordia was sentenced to sixteen years in prison Wednesday for abandoning ship instead of getting all of his passengers to safety. Thirty-two people died.

Similarly, a driver in a hit and run case can end up behind bars.

But back here at the Avalon - the police chief says at this point - there is no criminality involved as a result of the Avalon employees failing to call 911.

“You can take one room, and it could flash over within four minutes,” said Chief Jacobson.

Edgewater Fire Chief Thomas Jacobson didn’t want to comment specifically on this incident.

But he says generally speaking - a quickly placed human call for help often leads to the best chance to fight a fire.

“You would learn that back in grammar school. When they taught you to call 911. Stop, drop and roll. It should be second nature,” said Chief Jacobson.

Pedro Alvizua, who just two years ago moved out of the burned building, and now lives in the Avalon wing right next door…still can’t believe what happened.

“What would drive you not to call 911 if you created at fire?” said Pedro.