Suspicious Fire Destroys Lake Park Cemetery Office; Your Help Is Needed

cemetery fire webBy Karen E. Viereck

Editor/Publisher

WOOLWICH TWP. — A suspicious fire on April 1 destroyed the office building of the Lake Park Cemetery in Woolwich Township.

The fire was reported by a nearby resident at about 3:46 a.m. According to Lake Park Cemetery President Bob Gahrs, he had ridden through the cemetery before leaving for the day at 6:30 p.m. the night before and everything was good.

Along with arson, officials also believe a robbery took place. According to Gahrs, drawers were open in the desks and cabinets.

An arson dog was brought in to investigate the modular office building remains, but according to Gahrs, it couldn’t find an accelerant. Gahrs believes the burglars ignited a pile of papers in the corner of the office since there were no electrical items in that corner.

On April 6, Gahrs said that the prosecutor’s office said they needed the door of the well building behind the office that had been kicked in. Gahrs said there was a big black footprint on it.

The fire is under investigation by the Gloucester County Fire Marshal’s Office and the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office. Anyone with information about the circumstances can contact Det. Garbarino at 856-384-5619.

Information can be e-mailed to the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office at tips@co.gloucester.nj.us, or visit https://mypolicedepartment.org/gloucester-county-prosecutors-office/tipform/, or download the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office myPD smartphone app, which can be downloaded free at the iOS App Store or Google Play Store.

One of the biggest problems for Gahrs is that cemetery records from 1872 to present were destroyed in the fire.

Luckily some cemetery records were on computer back up and the Gloucester County Historical Society had made copies of some of the earliest record books. Woolwich Township also has copies of paperwork that Lake Park had to file yearly, but Gahrs said it will be a jig saw puzzle putting records together.

He is asking help from the public. If anyone has any deeds to sites in the cemetery, please contact him at 856-467-5667.

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