HOPELAWN, N.J. – A lifelong resident of Woodbridge Township was killed after a fast moving fire tore through their home, leaving the neighborhood in shock.
The Hopelawn Engine Co. #1 responded to 98 Lee Ave. on March 20, at approximately 12:45 a.m. for a reported house fire with possible entrapment. Chief Mike Walsh arrived on scene and found the rear of the house along with the neighboring house engulfed in flames. The two houses were only separated by approximately three feet.
The son of the woman believed to be trapped inside the home confirmed that his mother was unable to escape and was located on the second floor. There were several rescue attempts made by the son and Woodbridge police officers, but they were driven back by the heavy smoke and heat.
Firefighters arrived and advanced a hand line through the front door and started searching vigorously for the trapped woman, while battling the intense flames. The bulk of the fire was knocked down inside the house and search efforts continued. Moments later the woman was located by firefighters in the living room and removed to the outside, but was pronounced dead at the scene.
Firefighting efforts continued and exterior hand lines were advanced to the rear of the two homes where flames started to intensify and spread quickly. Hose streams were placed into operation and the fire was darkened within 10 minutes, allowing firefighters to enter the homes and extinguish the remaining fire.
All visible fire was extinguished in both structures within an hour and was declared under control within 90 minutes.
Extensive overhaul was needed on the interior and exterior of both homes due to the extensive fire damage.
The son who attempted to rescue his mother suffered smoke inhalation and was transported to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
There were no reported firefighter injuries at the scene.
Several Woodbridge Township fire departments along with Sayreville and Perth Amboy fire departments responded to assist at the scene. Woodbridge Township EMS was on scene to provide rehabilitation for firefighters.
Both homes were heavily damaged by the blaze and were deemed uninhabitable by the Woodbridge Township Building Department.
The cause of the fire is being investigated by fire officials, but it appears to have started in the rear bedroom.