Fire guts pizzeria, damages businesses at Green Hill Shopping Plaza in Parsippany

Andrew M. Santos

PARSIPPANY — An overnight fire caused heavy damage Tuesday to several businesses on the south end of Green Hill Shopping Plaza on Parsippany Road.

The fire broke out at 12:45 a.m., police advised on social media, adding that a large portion of Parsippany Road was closed between Barnsboro and Allentown roads.

Firefighters from Parsippany District 6 arrived at the scene in 20-degree weather to find fire conditions centered around Joseph’s Pizzeria, District 6 Fire Chief Vincent Petito said.

“There was heavy fire at the front of the pizzeria as well as the back of the first floor,” Petito said. “Initial engines made progress on the storefronts but the fire continued to spread through the cockloft as well as the basement. The first floor collapsed onto the basement and the roof collapsed onto the first floor, which hampered our progress.”

Firefighters from various towns battle a fire at the Green Hill Plaza strip mall in Parsippany, N.J. on Tuesday Jan. 4, 2022.

One firefighter sustained a “minor” hand injury and another was evaluated after not feeling well, Petitio said.

A pumper was still pouring water from above onto the pizzeria at 8 a.m. as the response began to wind down and investigators from the Morris County arson squad and K-9 unit were observed at the scene.

“Nothing I saw led me to believe arson but they’re obviously going to do their thing,” Petito said. “They may know something I don’t. But I didn’t see anyone running away here with a gas can.”

A Parsippany police spokesperson declined comment deferring to the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office. Officers from the county arson and K-9 units were on the scene.

The scope and cause of the fire remain under investigation, a spokesperson for the county office said.

The fire was contained to the southern third of the shopping center even though Petito said he believes the fire started about “30, 45 minutes before we were called.”

“Based on heavy fire in the back, I’m thinking it might have started in the basement and worked its way up to the front, and exposed the front,” the chief said. “That’s when the people at QuickCheck called it in. It could have been worse. That’s why firewalls are key. It stopped it from going into the laundry and the pediatric center.”

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Anchored by one of the oldest original QuickChek stores in Morris County, the structure also includes a dry cleaner and laundromat, dental and pediatric practices, a pharmacy, a liquor store, a beauty salon and Italian and Chinese restaurants.

Firefighters continued to pump water from a ladder on the pizzeria at 8 a.m., with temperatures still in the low 20s.

All six Parsippany fire districts responded to the scene, with support arriving from Whippany, Boonton and Boonton Township. Parsippany rescue and recovery and the Morris Township Office of Emergency Management also came to render aid to the firefighters.

The response created some icy road conditions to the south side of the area. Trucks were dispatched to salt the icy Green Hill parking lot and adjacent roads taking on water runoff that quickly froze.

Firefighters from various towns battle a fire at the Green Hill Plaza strip mall in Parsippany, N.J. on Tuesday Jan. 4, 2022.

Firefighters from various towns battle a fire at the Green Hill Plaza strip mall in Parsippany, N.J. on Tuesday Jan. 4, 2022.

A few residents of nearby Lake Parsippany stopped by to view the scene but none said they saw the fire.

Timothy Bradford arrived at 6 a.m. for his shift at the Woroco Gas station across the street.

“I just saw a whole bunch of smoke when they had the hoses out,” he said. “I didn’t see the blaze. It was pretty much out.”

Check back for updates to this story.

William Westhoven is a local reporter for DailyRecord.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

Email: [email protected] Twitter: @wwesthoven

This article originally appeared on Morristown Daily Record: Green Hill Shopping Plaza in Parsippany NJ damaged by fire

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