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New Jersey Woman Living With As Many As 50 Cats Blew Up House To Avoid Eviction

Roosevelt, NJ – A New Jersey woman living in a house filled with as many as 50 cats died in a massive explosion last week after she refused to comply with an eviction order and set the home on fire during a standoff.

The incident occurred at a home on Cedar Court in Roosevelt on March 1, WKXW reported.

New Jersey State Police (NJSP) Lieutenant Lawrence Peele said a trooper went to the residence that day to serve an eviction notice.

But the woman living there refused to leave the house and allegedly told the trooper she would blow the residence up, Lt. Peele told WKXW.

Additional troopers responded to the area during the ensuing standoff and evacuated nearby residents, CBS News reported.

“They knocked on our door this morning. Thank God it was a pretty loud knock,” neighbor Erin Luca told the news outlet. “I grabbed [my son]. They told us to leave. She was threatening with a bomb or to bomb the house…”

The home exploded at approximately 11 a.m., creating a fireball that sent a plume of dark smoke up into the air, WKXW reported.

The structure was engulfed in flames and was completely destroyed.

The blaze also spread to an attached residence, resulting in significant damage, CBS News reported.

“We’re getting reports that the resident turned on the gas of the residence prior to igniting,” Lt. Peele said.

He confirmed the woman, who lived alone, was killed in the blast, WKXW reported.

Her identity was not immediately released.

Roosevelt Mayor Peggy Malkin said the woman worked as a pet sitter and that she had lived in the area for at least a decade, the Asbury Park Press reported.

Malkin said the woman had built a “cat house” outside for the animals to live in, but it is unclear whether or not they escaped the fire.

“She had many, many cats,” the mayor confirmed.

Western Monmouth Animal Control spokesperson Sharon Gaboff said no live or deceased cats were found at the scene after the blaze, WKXW reported.

Gaboff said the woman left a window open inside the home prior to the explosion and that the animals possibly escaped the house as the fire spread.

“We searched everywhere. We looked in what we can of the remains of the house,” she told WKXW. “So far, nothing’s come up. My fingers are crossed.”

She said any cats who escaped will likely return to the charred house once they get hungry.

Animal control will work to help them when and if that occurs.

The woman’s neighbors estimated between 30 and 50 cats lived at the house, WKXW reported.

Gaboff said she believes that number may be lower.

“I do know that she took care of her colony over there for many, many years, so they were dying off because they were getting older,” she told WKXW. “I’m going to say in the neighborhood of maybe 10 to 15 cats.”

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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