Man charged after Keyport fire was made infamous after his dog plunged into frozen river
A Toms River man who had been performing roofing work on a Keyport building that went up in flames Friday, injuring eight firefighters, is facing disorderly persons charges in connection with the incident.
Andrew Mayer, 28, is not charged with starting the fire itself. He's the same person who was charged with animal cruelty after, authorities say, his dog died in a frozen river in March of last year.
Authorities allege Mayer was doing doughnuts in his truck on the Toms River when it fell through the ice — and while he got out, 2-year-old boxer mix Rolo died.
Authorities also alleged Mayer waited to report the incident, setting off a large-scale search for potentially missing human victims of the crash.
According to multiple reports, he's been seeking entry into a court diversionary program to avoid a criminal record in that incident.
Witnesses at the scene of Friday's fire told police they saw Andrew Mayer, 28, doing roofing work on the building just prior to the fire, the Monmouth County prosecutor's Office said in a statement Tuesday. He was charged with working without a permit, working without a license, and driving without a license, all disorderly persons offenses. Mayer was later released, authorities said.
Authorities say no determination has been made regarding the cause of the fire in the building, which is located in Keyport's business district.
The blaze broke out Friday at 43 West Front St. Authorities say they received numerous 911 calls and when firefighters arrived on the scene, flames could be seen coming from three structures at 43 and 45 West Front Street that housed commercial space and three apartments.
As the fire spread and crews worked to knock down the flames, a partial building collapse resulted in non-life-threatening injuries to two firefighters. It took nearly 200 firefighters from at least 12 municipalities to bring the fire under control by Friday evening, officials said.
The prosecutor's office said a total of eight firefighters were hospitalized for injuries along with a Salvation Army worker. None of the injuries were life-threatening. In addition, about 33 emergency worked were treated at the scene.
Borough Manager Stephen Gallo told the Asbury Park Press the fire destroyed three buildings, three businesses, displaced four families and damaged an adjacent park along the borough’s waterfront. Gallo said the blaze caused $613,000 worth of damage.
The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, Monmouth County Fire Marshal’s Office, Keyport Police Department and Keyport Fire Prevention Bureau are continuing to investigate the cause of the fire, authorities said in a press release.
Toniann Antonelli is a social content producer for NJ 101.5. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @ToniRadio1015.