Man killed in Ridgefield Park fire lived ‘off the grid,’ neighbors say

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RIDGEFIELD PARK, N.J. — The Acting Bergen County Prosecutor says the cause of a fatal fire in Ridgefield Park early Wednesday morning was accidental. The precise cause is still under investigation.

Neighbors and friends say Luis Ochoa, 73, heated and powered his home ‘off the grid’.

"That’s why he had the generator in the back and he had power cords running inside,” said Harald Austad. “He also had solar panels in the back.”

Austad said Ocha also had a wood-burning stove that sat right where part of the home was severely charred.

“He had a windmill up there, that he used to use to generate power too,” he said. “He thought PSE&G was ripping him off.”

Ocha got trapped inside his Brinkerhoff Street home just after midnight. He was overcome by fire that shot through the roof.

"We eventually got to the fire which was very tough. We have a lot of power lines and everything so it was hard to get the ladders up,” said Ridgefield Park Fire Chief James Vandertulip.

Ochoa was a retired electrician and a devout Catholic.

"Every single day he was at mass. And helping giving communion,” said Father Fernando Guillen of St. Francis of Assisi Church.

One firefighter got hurt this morning when he slipped and fell on ice.

There has not been a fatal fire in Ridgefield Park since the 1990s.

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