An early morning blaze at a New Jersey motel has left four people dead and eight injured. Local officials have not yet found the cause of the fire.
The blaze began around 5:30 a.m. at the Mariner’s Cove Motor Inn in Pleasant Point Beach and was brought under control by 7 a.m., according to the New York Times.
The roof over the manager’s office collapsed, possibly destroying records of tenants, but investigators were able to retrieve a hard drive from the office and got a full record of who was staying at the motel. All remaining residents have been accounted for.
Around 40 people were staying at the motel when the blaze broke out. The motel could accommodate 100 across two floors. Some residents trapped on the second floor decided to jump to safety, others managed to run through the fiery hallways.
Officials are now looking into the cause of the fire and have brought in arson units to investigate. They have brought dogs that can find both cadavers and possible accelerants. That could tell investigators whether or not it was a deliberate fire.
Reports of dramatic rescues and escapes are being recalled on scene. One woman was trapped in her second-floor room and had got into the bathtub with the shower running to stem the flames growing around her. Firefighters were able to break through her window and pull her to safety, but she still suffered severe burns.
One family staying at the motel were forced out of their home in Hurricane Sandy said there were more residents at the motel like them. “We rebuilt from having nothing,” said Crystal Wardell, 26, “and then you go back to having nothing again.”
There were other semi-permanent residents too. Two stone masons living on the second floor barely escaped with the clothes on their backs. They said they were staying there until they could find an affordable apartment, but the fire brought them back to square one. “We were just making progress,” said Mark Lynch, 45. “This destroyed us.”