🔥 A Hewitt man is charged with arson and aggravated assault

🔥 West Milford officials say he started a massive brush fire by illegally burning debris

🔥 Three firefighters were injured dousing the blaze

WEST MILFORD — A Hewitt man is facing criminal charges for starting a billowing brush fire that injured three firefighters and destroyed a home, according to police.

Keith Scherer, 45, is charged with arson, criminal mischief, and three counts of aggravated assault for injury to emergency services personnel for the blaze that started around noon on Saturday, according to West Milford police Chief James DeVore.

Scherer has also been issued an ordinance violation from the fire marshal for illegally burning debris. Fire Marshal Michael Moscatello said that the illegal burn was responsible for starting the fire.

Smoke rises above a West Milford brush fire 3/18/23 (via Facebook)
Smoke rises above a West Milford brush fire 3/18/23 (via Facebook)

Officials said cops and residents tried putting out the fire at a residence along Lakeside Road in its early stages. But it quickly spread and the billowing smoke drew attention from numerous other fire agencies, including crews across the state border in New York.

Fire crews spent more than seven hours battling the blaze. Three firefighters were injured. Two were taken to the hospital and later released while a third was treated at the scene.

By the time it was over, a home on Kushaqua Trail was nearly burned to the ground. The structure suffered a partial roof collapse and only a charred skeleton of the home remained. Two other houses were also damaged.

Scherer was processed and released pending an appearance at Central Judicial Processing Court, according to police.

Rick Rickman is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at richard.rickman@townsquaremedia.com

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