By: Richard L. Smith
Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer has provided an update on a recent incident in Manchester Township.
According to Prosecutor Billhimer, on July 24, at around 8:30 p.m., emergency responders from the Manchester Township Police Department and Manchester Township Fire Departments were dispatched to a structure fire on Laketree Court.
Fire officials said the blaze had already caused significant damage, with parts of the first and second floors collapsing into the basement, making it too hazardous to conduct a full investigation until daylight.
The following day, on July 25, the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office-Arson Squad, Ocean County Fire Marshal’s Office, Manchester Township Police Department Detective Bureau, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit worked together to conduct an extensive investigation into the origin and cause of the fire.
Prosecutor Billhimer said the investigation has determined that the fire originated on the front porch of the residence.
While the exact cause could not be definitively pinpointed, improperly discarded smoking material is being considered as a potential factor.
As such, the cause of the fire has been ruled accidental.
Tragically, during the course of the investigation, responders discovered the deceased body of a male victim amidst the debris and collapsed structure.
The victim's identity is yet to be confirmed, and the body was transported to Community Medical Center in Toms River for further examination and identification.
The incident has shocked the community, as the loss of property and life is always devastating. Authorities are working diligently to ensure a thorough investigation, aiming to provide answers to the affected families and residents.