Newark House Fire Claims Six Lives

By Julie Daurio, WBGO News
Newark. June 16, 2014

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Carolyn Murray (center) with Mayor Luis Quintana (center right) in front of the fire-damaged home on South 15th Street in Newark

A fast-moving house fire in Newark’s South Ward claimed six lives early Sunday morning, including the lives of two children.

Officials are saying plastic decorations on the front of the house may have caused the deadly fire to spread more quickly.

Essex County Acting Prosecutor Carolyn Murray says in photos of the house taken before the fire, the plastic flowers and other decorations don’t appear to be anything unusual.

“It’s somewhat unusual that someone would work that hard to keep them up all year, and again I think it shows these folks cared about their home. Because of the combustible quality of these items it spread very, very quickly through them and then into what was a house that was built in 1927 and the fire was quite vigorous very fast.”

Murray identified the victims of the fire as Salome Stewart, her husband Reginald Stewart, and Salome Stewart’s sister, Natasha Kinsale, who all lived in the house.

Three of the victims were visiting family members. Noreen Johnson, and her fifteen-year-old son Stephon Sydney were from Crawford, Georgia. Eleven-year-old Zion Forbes was from East Orange.

Newark Fire Chief John Centanni says firefighters arrived on the scene minutes after receiving a 3:51 A.M. call about the blaze but that the intense flames made it impossible to reach the family inside.

Murray says investigators haven’t found any smoke alarms in the home. So far they do not suspect any criminal intent.


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