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Tow truck crashes into building, sparks fire that spread through pizzeria, cafe

FRENCHTOWN, NJ (Hunterdon County) – Authorities are investigating a motor vehicle accident and structure fire that occurred on Bridge Street in Frenchtown on Monday evening, according to Hunterdon County Prosecutor Anthony P. Kearns, III, Chief of Detectives Frank R. Crisologo, and Frenchtown Borough Police Chief Al Kurylka.

A preliminary police investigation revealed that Roberto Velez, 37, of Kearny, NJ was in a heavy duty wrecker hauling a large trailer was traveling southbound on County Route 513 at approximately 10:40 pm. The wrecker was owned by B&L Towing and Recovery, of Carteret, NJ, Kearns said.

For yet to be determined reasons, the tow truck left the roadway and struck the Galasso’s Pizzeria located on Bridge Street. The pizzeria became engulfed in flames and the fire spread to the Frenchtown Café. The structures suffered extensive damage and were unoccupied at the time of the fire, Kearns said.

Velez suffered minor injuries and refused medical treatment at the scene, Kearns said.

Frenchtown Fire Department was assisted by the Quakertown Fire Department, Kingwood Township Fire Department, Stockton Fire Department, Raritan Township Fire Department, Flemington Fire Department, West Amwell Fire Department, Holland Fire Department, Clinton Fire Department, Annandale Fire Department, Lebanon Fire Department, Ottsville PA Fire Department, Erwinna PA Fire Department, and Upper Black Eddy PA Fire Department.

“I commend the dedication and commitment of the volunteer firefighters from Hunterdon County and the surrounding areas for their quick response to this fire. Without the tremendous response from these volunteers it is likely the damage to the businesses in the area would have been far worse. We are grateful to the firefighters that worked throughout the night and early morning hours to extinguish the blaze. We are very fortunate to have such a fine volunteer system of brave men and women,” Kearns said.

If anyone has information to please contact the Hunterdon County Prosecutor’s Office at (908) 788-1129.

Anonymous tips can be submitted by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-321-0010, going online at www.CrimeStoppersHunterdon.com, or through the free “P3 Tips” smartphone app. All tips are anonymous and kept confidential.

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By: Jay Edwards Follow on Twitter | Like on Facebook