Husband and wife killed in West Orange townhouse fire – NBC New York

Investigators say a couple in their 80s were killed in a fire that broke out overnight in a townhouse in New Jersey.

The unidentified victims were found unconscious in the West Orange home on Northfield Avenue. According to the fire department, one victim was on the first floor and the other was on the second floor. First responders attempted to perform CPR, but it was too late.

According to fire investigators, one of the victims was upstairs talking to a neighbor and calling for help. That person went back inside at some point, presumably to look for their loved one who was also trapped in the smoke.

It was not immediately clear what started the fatal fire. Cell phone video from a witness showed smoke rising from the basement of the three-story townhouse. The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office conducted an investigation into the cause.

Fire officials said the couple was preparing to move and the house was packed but exits were clear.

“They were able to get a clear path to the doors but unfortunately the smoke was billowing – and there was a heavy cloud of smoke on the first and second floors. That’s why they were overcome,” said a West Orange fire official.

Neighbors described the victims as a loving couple.

“I think they met in Jamaica. They helped me a lot, they helped us with the computers and helped us take care of our cats,” said Kirbee and Jeffrey Stern, who said they were longtime friends of the victims.

Another neighbor, Greg Peck, said he was waiting for his wife to come home just before midnight when he noticed something was wrong.

“When I went to my apartment, I smelled some smoke. A woman was walking her dog and I said, ‘Dial 911! Dial 911! I smell smoke,'” Peck said. “I knew the old couple, they were nice people. They’ve been here a long time.”