4 men die in New Jersey shore motel fire

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 21, 2014 at 5:06 pm •  Published: March 21, 2014

"I lost everything — again — but I'm alive," he said. "I only got out with my insulin kit, but this is what keeps me alive, so I guess I'm lucky."

Frystock, who is diabetic, said he woke up to the cracking sound of wood burning, and saw an orange glow.

"People were yelling: 'Help me! Help me!' There was lots of screaming," he said. "A woman in the unit next to me, they pulled her from a bathtub, but I don't know how anyone could have survived those flames. The entire second floor was engulfed, from one end to another."

That woman, who had sought refuge in a shower and kept the water running on her while waiting to be rescued, was pulled from the bathroom by one firefighter, who handed her out a window to another firefighter, who carried her down a ladder to safety. The woman was taken to St. Barnabas Medical Center, a hospital about an hour north that specializes in treating severe burns, which Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato said she had suffered.

Lloyd Barker, another motel resident who safely escaped the fire, watched as firefighters rescued her.

"She was screaming, there was fire over her head," he said. "She was all black, from head to toe. It was chaos."

Denise Dougherty, the motel's housekeeper, said she was awakened by screams.

"There were people yelling, 'Help me! Help me!' and other people yelling, 'Jump! Jump!' It was terrible."

Shawn Wardell said a strong wind was fanning the flames across the second floor of the motel, where he had been staying with his cousin and grandparents.

"We got my grandfather out 'cause he's disabled, and by that time the whole second floor was just engulfed in flames," he said. "People were yelling and screaming."

Residents gave conflicting accounts of whether they heard smoke detectors or fire alarms sounding. Some said they heard nothing, while others said a fire alarm was blaring as the flames were sweeping eastward across the top of the building.

The Ocean County Sheriff's Department said one of the injured included one of its detectives, who suffered a severe leg injury, including broken bones, at the fire scene.

Investigators determined about 40 people were staying there when the fire broke out, Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato said. The motel's office was destroyed and many records were lost, he said, making an accurate accounting difficult.

Volunteer and county social service agencies placed the surviving motel residents in other rental units in town.

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Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC