SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ – A township man died Friday afternoon when fire raced through the first floor of a condominium he shared with his sister in the Wynwood Estates development off of Route 1.
Kendall Park Fire Chief Chris Perez said that police and firefighters responded to a residence in Building 2 on Deerberry Lane in the Wynwood Estates around 2:45 p.m. Friday after a resident smelled smoke giving off an odor “like burning plastic.”
When he arrived with police, Perez said that they could not find anything immediately that would indicate a fire.
When he took carbon monoxide readings in the upstairs of the unit, however, the device showed “dangerous levels” of the gas.
“We knew there was a problem,” he said.
Perez said he then inspected the entire building and saw the windows of unit 27 “blacked out” from the inside and a “whisp” of smoke coming from the condo’s sliding glass door.
“We obviously knew then that we had a fire (in the unit),” Perez said. “It was a pretty serious fire. It encompassed the entire kitchen and living room area.”
Perez said that firefighters were able to get the fire under control “within minutes,” but there was heavy damage to the first floor where crews discovered the body of a man in the area of the blaze.
Police contacted the Middlesex County Medical Examiner’s Office to take on the investigation into the death as well as the town’s fire marshal to determine the cause of the fire.
As of 6 p.m., officials could not positively identify the victim.
Neighbors described the residents of the unit as an “elderly” brother and sister that were named “Zo and John.”
Property Manager Jennifer VanGorden said the two people had lived in the condo for more than 20 years and were “original owners” of the unit.
New Jersey State property records list the owner as Zo-Anne Abbott.
VanGorden said that the sister in the two-bedroom unit was currently in the hospital recovering from an earlier surgery and that her brother was the only person believed to be home at the time of the fire.
Phone records online give the name of a John Doran as also living at that address, but officials could not confirm that information.
Several other units were evacuated and had some smoke damage, Perez said.
Firefighters from Monmouth Junction, Kendall park, Kingston and Plainsboro responded to the scene.
We will update the story as more information becomes available.