Janitor’s Cigarette Caused New Jersey School to Burn Down

March 26, 2014

Police in central New Jersey say a custodian’s cigarette is to blame for a fire that destroyed an elementary school.

Police say the custodian, 48-year-old Jerome Higgins, tossed an unfinished cigarette into a trash can in the janitor’s office Saturday evening, sparking a blaze that gutted the James Monroe Elementary School in Edison.

Higgins has been issued a summons accusing him of smoking in a public building, which is a disorderly persons offense.

Classrooms are being readied at a nearby college for the approximately 500 students displaced by the fire. Classes are to resume Wednesday.

Prosecutors said they have not been told if Higgins has a lawyer yet.

A person who answered the phone at a listing for Higgins in East Brunswick said to call back and leave a message on the answering machine.

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