OCPO: Fatal Toms River home fire started in trash can; Victim identified

Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato and Toms River Police Chief Mitch Little today announced that the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Arson Unit/Major Crimes Unit, Toms River Police Department, Toms River Bureau of Fire Prevention, and the Ocean County Sheriff’s CSI have determined the cause of the fatal fire on February 14 at 1911 Fiddlers Run.

The team, after exhaustive hours examining the fire scene debris, determined that the fire originated near the south wall of the residence basement in a plastic trash can. The cause of the fire is accidental and improperly discarded smoking material could not be eliminated.

After an autopsy by the Ocean County Medical Examiner, the victim of the fire is identified as Ellen Tanner, 64, a resident of the home. The manner of death is accidental and cause of death is smoke inhalation and heat related injuries as a result of the house fire.

The fire occurred on February 14th at 11:03 am. Police, Fire, and EMS units responded to the active structure fire at 1911 Fiddlers Run. Upon arrival the units observed a heavy smoke condition. They were advised by witnesses on the scene that a woman was still inside of the home. Toms River Police Officers Scott Fallano and Raymond Beyerle, who were first to arrive, entered the front door and tried to locate the woman. They were quickly turned back by the thick smoke. Once outside, they located a 67 year old male resident in the back yard who had escaped the blaze. He was trying to regain entry to his home to locate the woman. The structure was then fully engulfed in flames and the rescue attempt by police officers was not successful. The homeowner, who suffered burns to his hands, was removed to a safe distance. Once the firefighters arrived, they made a brave secondary attempt to rescue the woman. The firefighters, who were in full protective gear, entered the home. As they made their way towards the interior of the house, an unidentified Fireman suffered second degree burns to his neck and ear before having to retreat for safety reasons. He was treated and released at a local medical facility.

Responding fire units were Pleasant Plains, Silverton, East Dover, Toms River #1 & #2, Island Heights, and Manchester. Medical units responding were Toms River EMS Division, MONOC Paramedics, and Silverton Volunteer EMS.

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