By: Richard L. Smith
A devastating mobile home fire on Lakewood Road in Plumsted Township has left a community in mourning and raised important questions about fire safety.
Emergency service personnel responded swiftly to reports of the fire, arriving to find heavy smoke billowing from the mobile home.
The chaotic scene unfolded with one male victim outside the residence and another still trapped inside.
The homeowner, 79-year-old Paul Hakos, was quickly identified as the male victim and transported to CentraState Medical Center in Freehold for treatment of his injuries.
Fortunately, he is currently listed in stable condition.
Tragically, firefighters discovered the lifeless body of 63-year-old Catherine Hakos, the female victim, in the back bedroom of the residence.
Despite their best efforts, Ms. Hakos was pronounced deceased at the scene, leaving a somber cloud over the tight-knit community.
In the wake of this heartbreaking incident, a thorough and extensive investigation was launched by multiple agencies, including the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office-Arson Squad, Ocean County Fire Marshal's Office, Plumsted Township Police Department Detective Bureau, Plumsted Township Fire Marshal's Office, and the Ocean County Sheriff's Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit.
Through a diligent examination of the evidence, investigators determined that the fire had originated underneath the structure.
While the exact cause was under scrutiny, it was noted that a failure of energized electrical equipment could not be eliminated as the potential source.
The culmination of the investigation has led to a ruling of accidental fire origin.
The tragic events surrounding this fire are a stark reminder of the importance of fire safety and vigilance.
In the aftermath of this heartbreaking loss, the Plumsted Township community, as well as surrounding areas, are reminded of the necessity of maintaining safe electrical systems and adhering to fire prevention measures.
Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer expressed his condolences to the Hakos family and the entire community.
As the investigation concludes, the focus now turns to healing and offering support to those affected by this heartbreaking tragedy.