NEWTON, NJ—One man was injured, while three others escaped unharmed when a two-family two story apartment house caught fire on Saturday.  On January 27 at around 6:26 a.m. Newton Police received a 9-1-1 call from a passerby reporting a house on fire. Patrols immediately responded to the area and found a structure fire at 75 Trinity Street police report..

According to Police, upon arrival, Patrolman 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 children, a 1-year old girl and a 6-year old boy, were already out of the apartment.

Patrolman Morales, according to the police report, attempted to climb the stairs leading to the second floor apartment, but he was unable to due to  the heavy smoke and fire,

Sign Up for E-News

As Patrolman Morales exited the apartment, both he and Patrolman Post saw two people, later identified as William Thogode, 57 and his friend Melanie Griffiths, 41, exit a window.

Thogode and Griffiths made their way to the roof of the front covered porch, which is approximately 12 feet off the ground, and were standing on it. Patrolman Post positioned his patrol vehicle next to the porch, according to the reports and both officers assisted Thogode and Griffiths off the porch roof onto the roof of the patrol vehicle and to safety.

Before escaping the fire, police report that Thogode suffered second degree burns to his head, along with smoke inhalation. He was transported to the Newton Medical Center where he was then subsequently transported to Saint Barnabas Medical Center. According to police, Thogode was listed in critical, but stable condition.

The Sussex County Assistant Fire Marshalls responded to the scene along with detectives from the Newton Police Department and the Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office. 

According to the police, the cause of the fire is undetermined and not suspicious, as it originated between the floor joists of the ceiling dividing the first and second floors.

Newton Fire Department also responded to the scene and 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 as well, while Lakeland and Stillwater Ambulance were on stand-by.