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UPDATE: Massive Berkeley Brush Fire Nearly…

UPDATED: Fire Claims Life of Holiday City Resident

One occupant died in early morning structure fire on Biabou Drive

A fire which occurred just after 4 a.m. on Saturday at a residence in Holiday City Berkeley has taken the life of the home’s male occupant, according to Ocean County authorities.

Chief Will Jubert of the Manitou Park Fire Department said that his squad was dispatched to a home located at 35 Biabou Drive at 4:19 a.m. today, where upon arrival, saw a structure fire in progress.

“There was heavy fire in the front of the home,” said Chief Jubert. “Our first engine launched an aggressive, defensive attack, but we were not able to gain access to the home.”

Jubert said that the fire was under control by 5:15 a.m.

Departments which responded to the scene in addition to Manitou Park were Toms River Fire Companies 1 and 2, Bayville Fire Company and Manchester Fire Company, according to Jubert.

“Also responding were the Berkeley Township Police Department, the Ocean County Fire Marshal’s Office and the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office,” said Jubert.

Executive Assistant Prosecutor Michel A. Paulhus confirmed Saturday morning that the fire had claimed the life of an occupant in the home, but that the body was still in the process of being identified, and therefore, no next of kin for the deceased had been notified yet.

“We’re currently looking into the circumstances of the fire and the death of the occupant,” said Paulhus. “We’re in the very preliminary stages of our investigation, and it’s currently underway. There was a structure fire at that residence, and that’s all we can say right now.”

At the scene this morning, crews from the Ocean County Sheriff's Office and Ocean County Fire Marshal's Office were on hand investigating the blaze. The wood-frame home was completely gutted, from the main living quarters to the one-car garage, in which stood a burned-out Nissan automobile.

Neighbors on both sides of the residence commented on what they saw and heard this morning.

“I saw the whole thing,” said a neighbor, Ralph Bartolomeo. “It started about a quarter after four this morning, my wife and I were asleep.”

When alerted to the fire, Bartolomeo said that he ran outside and attempted to assist authorities by using his garden hose on the fire, but by then it was too late.

He added that his neighbor attemped to escape the fire, but couldn't make it out in time.

“Apparently, he had medical oxygen tanks inside the home, which blew up. We would see him doing work on the house every now and then, but he was private. He kept mostly to himself. It's a shame he passed away,” Bartolomeo added.

“The first thing I heard was a big bang,” said Fred Duserney, another neighbor. “Flames were shooting out of the sides of the house, it went up so damn fast. I called 911, as did another neighbor.”

Duserney said that wind carried some of the smoke to his residence and caused damage there, evident by the boarded-up windows on the left side of his home.

“It was blowing enough to bring some of the smoke this way,” Duserney described. “The windows and some siding were damaged, and some smoke got in my house. It's all closed up now.”

Duserney explained that the fire department got him out of his residence to safety across the street. Regarding his neighbor, Duserney said that the gentleman was “a private person”.

“We would see him outside when work was done on the house, trimming the tree or working in the garden. It's a shame,” said Duserney.

Keeping whats mine September 08, 2012 at 01:46 PM
Sad.
Will September 08, 2012 at 01:46 PM
Fire was under control at 5:15am
Nick Malfitano September 08, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Duly noted. Thank you again, Chief.
Mike September 08, 2012 at 04:01 PM
"..the body was still in the process of being identified, and therefore, no next of kin for the deceased had been notified yet." But you identify the name and address of the neighbor. Kind of makes it easy to figure out who the victim is if you happen to be friend or family of the victim.
lisa September 08, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Mike so typical of the press/media, they have no integrity.
Retired BC September 09, 2012 at 02:06 AM
Time for a paid fire department. I live a few doors away and it was almost 20 mins before an engine got on scene. Not acceptable especially at that hour.
Sue September 09, 2012 at 12:51 PM
That's a dumb comment. Anybody could drive down the street and see the burned house -- or do you want the media to withhold the street name too, so everybody in NJ with a relative in that development is worried unnecessarily?
Sue September 09, 2012 at 12:55 PM
Reconsider your comment. Anybody could drive down the street and see the burned house -- or do you want the media to withhold the street name too, so everybody in NJ with a relative in that development is worried unnecessarily?
Debi Klinger September 09, 2012 at 02:01 PM
I was visiting my Mom don the block when this happened. The explosion woke us out of a sound sleep, and I can get the sound of the explosion, sight of the flames and smell out of my head. So so so sad!! He deserved more in his golden years. RIP and prayers to the family.
mark September 09, 2012 at 02:52 PM
This is sad. Can oxygen tanks really explode like that? This story needs follow up to find out how it happened and to educate people about oxygen tank safety.
Will September 09, 2012 at 04:24 PM
I'm sorry sir but you are mistaken. From the time of dispatch it was not 20 mins. Please do not spread rumors that are not even remotely true. If you would like I can show you the timeline. Contact the firehouse and leave your name & number and I will contact you back personally.
tom September 09, 2012 at 05:27 PM
Hey Retired BC, From your name here Im going to guess you where a career firefighter! Instead of bashing the fire dept. on there response time(which by the way you are way off) why dont you have some respect for the victim of the fire and his family!!!!!!! Its possible that this fire may or could have been prevented! Both stations 18 25 26 I think did a outstanding job doing what they do best VOLUNTEER!!!!! From the looks of it, and sound of it, this gengleman was long gone even before the fire dept was dispatched. So, why dont you do something that you more then likely have not done in a long time! Think before you start posting comments that are not true and start spreading rumors that will just cause this family more pain then they already have to deal with!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Commenting September 09, 2012 at 08:17 PM
When was the last time YOU volunteered to help?
MIKE September 09, 2012 at 10:03 PM
sir we are all home sleeping wan we get a call and we triy to get to the firehouse as fast as we can and safely please thank be for u speak ty. we all triyed are best at what we do.
ginger24 September 10, 2012 at 02:50 PM
I agree with firefighter. My father was a VOLUNTEER for over 20 years. I remember numerous time at Sunday dinners his pager would go off and he would leave to go VOLUNTEER. It was in his blood but he missed a lot of family times because he was out savings other people, or their property and we always prayed for a safe return. I remember going sledding and he got a call and he had no chose but to go to the call. So before ANYONE bashes the volunteer companies walk in their shoes, leave your family during dinner, and battle a blaze.
Sunshine J Vincent September 12, 2012 at 12:41 PM
Sorry for the typo,does anyone know when the services for Joseph lasko will be?

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