Trapped couple dies in townhouse fire

WEST ORANGE, NJ – An overnight fire in West Orange, New Jersey, resulted in the deaths of an elderly couple, according to local officials on Tuesday. The identities of the deceased have yet to be officially confirmed, but community members report the couple had been living in the Northfield Avenue townhouse for over two decades.

As per one witness, the smell of smoke after midnight prompted him to step outside, whereupon he observed a police officer kick in the door of the townhouse and black smoke pouring out.

Firefighters promptly arrived at the three-story townhouse responding to reports of trapped residents. A man and woman were pulled from the burning structure and rushed to Cooperman Barnabas Hospital, where they failed to survive their injuries.

West Orange Fire Chief Anthony Vecchio shared that a woman was seen at the townhouse window by a neighbor but tragically re-entered the house. Although firefighters reached the second floor, the victims found there were unresponsive. Immediate CPR efforts were not successful.

The townhouse couple was well-known and loved in the community, described as generous with their neighbors. They were set to move out in August and had reportedly begun handing out some personal belongings.

Additionally, an adjacent neighbor was treated for symptoms of smoke inhalation following the incident. The Red Cross is currently assisting two neighboring residents displaced due to the fire.

The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office is investigating the cause of the fire. Initial inquiries indicate that smoke alarms within the townhouse were operational and that the fire likely originated in the basement.