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Mother, son among 6 dead in New Jersey fire

June 15, 2014
Associated Press

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey woman visiting the scene of a deadly house fire in Newark says her grandson and his mother were among the six killed in the blaze.

Iris Sydney tells The Associated Press that her grandson was supposed to meet her Sunday for Father's Day at the church his father attended before he died in an accident two years ago.

The woman says her 15-year-old grandson didn't show up and when she returned home, an Essex County sheriff's deputy was there and told her both he and his mother, Noreen Johnson, had died in the fire Sunday.

She says the two were visiting from Georgia and staying with Johnson's family at the house when it caught fire.

Authorities have not identified the victims. They are investigating what caused the blaze.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

A fast-moving fire ripped through a single-family home in New Jersey's largest city early Sunday, killing six people, authorities said.

The blaze broke out at the three-story residence at around 4 a.m. in Newark, the Essex County Prosecutor's office said. The fire soon spread to another residence, and both homes were destroyed.

The fire doesn't appear to be suspicious, but the cause remains under investigation, said Thomas Fennelly, chief assistant prosecutor. Everyone in the second home managed to escape safely, he said.

Some of the victims were likely related, authorities said.

All that remained of the home Sunday afternoon was the charred frame, with piles of blackened, twisted furniture and belongings spilling out of the empty sills that once held windows. The white fence around the front of the property was still intact.

Carol Valentine sorted through smoke-damaged photographs and photo albums with charred pages on the sidewalk in front of her fiance's home, which is next door to the residence where the fire started. Her fiance had been out of town and returned early Sunday to his home, which was already ablaze.

"He'd been delayed on planes for two days. He had gone to a graduation," she said. "Had he not been delayed, he would have been sleeping, and he probably wouldn't be alive."

She said she didn't know much about the neighbors.

A small storefront church called Tree of Life Ministries, on the other side of the home where six died, appeared undamaged. Neighbors gathered outside the home — many in their Sunday church clothes — shaking their heads at the loss of so many lives.

The Rev. Thomas Ellis lives in the neighborhood and stopped by to offer his support.

"For the city of Newark, this is a sad and tragic day," he said. "The community is hurting."

 
 

 

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