The Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office is investigating a fatal fire that charred a small bungalow at 160 Jersey Avenue in North Middletown.
One person died in the fire, Assistant Monmouth County Prosecutor Marc LeMieux told the Asbury Park Press, but authorities have not released the person's identity.
The fire was reported to police around 1:30 a.m., according to the report. The small street was filled with ambulances and fire engines battling the blaze for several hours on the densely occupied block facing Route 36.
Next door neighbor David Echeverria said he was awakened by a "loud bang, like firecrackers" and fire trucks in front of his home in the dark of night. "I was pretty scared when I saw the saw flames shooting out of the house," he said, looking at the burned out house just a few feet away from his. "They were as tall as that tree behind the house."
He grabbed his dog Oatmeal and pounded on his grandfather Wilfredo Gonzalez's door, who lives next to him on the other side, he said. Together they directed a hose onto David's house, but the heat of the fire melted portions of the siding on his house, and on the other neighboring house.
Echeverria said his grandmother Gloria Gonzalez saw a body taken out of the house around 4:30 a.m.
He said he did not know the woman who rented the house at 160 Jersey very well.