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Man Whose House Burned Down Faces Charges in Palmer

Phillipsburg man, who says his house was burned down and is living with relative in Palmer Township, faces multiple charges after being pulled over.

A New Jersey man whose house apparently burned down last month is being charged in Palmer Township in a suspected drunken driving case.

Frank William Fisher, 53, is charged with DUI (refusal) for refusing to submit to a blood test after being taken into custody for suspected drunken driving, court records say.

In addition to DUI (refusal), Fisher was charged with driving while operating privilege is suspended or revoked and general lighting requirements.

Police stopped Fisher early Tuesday driving a red 2000 GMC Sonoma pickup on northbound Route 248 near Palmer Park Mall. The truck’s driver-side headlight was out. Fisher pulled his truck into the mall’s Bon-Ton parking lot.

A personal information sheet in Fisher’s file says he claims his N.J. house burned down. The sheet also says the Phillipsburg native is staying at his sister’s house in Palmer.

A criminal complaint in the Palmer case lists his address as a post office box in Asbury, which is in Warren County.

But a web search shows that the Hunterdon County Democrat posted a story Feb. 9, a Saturday, about a fire the day before in the Hunterdon community of Bethlehem Township that damaged a home during a snowstorm. Hunterdon is east and south of Warren County.

The story says responders found “resident Frank Fisher in the kitchen, trying to fill a plastic bucket with water to throw on the fire.” The story says a state trooper ordered Fisher out.

Then it quoted state police as saying Fisher “became hostile and combative” and had to be physically removed from the house. The story also says Fisher was not charged with any wrongdoing.

In the Palmer case, township Officer Steve Steckel said he stopped Fisher’s pickup on northbound Route 248 around 12:40am. Tuesday.

Once in The Bon-Ton lot, Steckel asked Fisher for a driver’s license and registration. Fisher gave him a registration and insurance card but not a driver’s license, Steckel writes in a criminal complaint.

The officer again asked Fisher for his license. Fisher then said his license, issued in New Jersey, is under suspension for “DWI” (driving while intoxicated), the complaint says.

Steckel asked for another photo ID and Fisher gave him a New Jersey identification card that contains a photo.

Steckel, meanwhile, noticed a strong odor of alcohol coming from Fisher. He said his speech was “very slurred” and his eyes were “very glassy and bloodshot.”

He asked Fisher if he was drinking, and Fisher said he had a “few beers after work in New Jersey.” (The personal information sheet says he works for a roofing company in the Warren County community of Stewartsville).

Steckel asked Fisher to get out of the truck and perform several field sobriety tests on The Bon-Ton lot. Fisher told the officer he completed the tests, then the officer placed him under arrest for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.

He took Fisher to the Easton DUI Center, where the suspect refused to submit to a blood test.

He was arraigned later Tuesday by on-duty District Judge John Capobianco of Nazareth and released on $5,000 unsecured bail.

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