NEWTON, NJ (Sussex County) – A 57-year-old man was taken to the hospital with second-degree burns and smoke inhalation after a fire in Newton Saturday morning.
At 6:26 a.m., police received a 9-1-1 call from a passerby reporting a house on fire and officers found a structure fire at 75 Trinity Street, which is a two-family dwelling consisting of an upstairs and downstairs apartment, Newton Police Chief Michael Richards said.
Officers Russell Post and Patrolman Jose Morales observed thick smoke and flames coming from the residence. The downstairs tenants, Ruth Pellek, 35, Jason Staton, 38, and their two young children, 1-year-old girl and 6-year-old boy, were already out of the apartment, Richards said.
Officer Morales attempted to climb the stairs leading to the 2nd floor apartment, but due to the heavy smoke and fire, he was unable do to so, Richards said.
As Officer Morales exited the apartment, both he and Officer Post observed two people, William Thogode and his friend Melanie Griffiths, 41, exit a window and were standing on the roof of the front covered porch, which is approximately 12 feet off the ground, Richards said.
Officer Post positioned his patrol vehicle next to the porch and both Officers assisted Thogode and Griffiths off the porch roof onto the roof of the patrol vehicle and to safety, police said.
Thogode suffered second-degree burns to his head along with smoke inhalation. He was transported to the Newton Medical Center where he was subsequently transported to Saint Barnabas Medical Center. Thogode was listed in critical but stable condition, Richards said.
The investigation, which was conducted by the Sussex County Assistant Fire Marshalls, Detectives from the Newton Police Department and the Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office, revealed the specific cause of the fire is undetermined and not suspicious, originating between the floor joists of the ceiling dividing the first and second floors, Richards said.
Newton Fire Department were assisted by the Andover Fire Department and Byram Fire Department. The Hampton and Fredon Fire Departments were on stand-by at Newton Firehouse #1. Newton First Aid Squad and Atlantic Ambulance responded to the scene and Lakeland and Stillwater Ambulance were on stand-by.