Firefighter Suffers Fatal Heart Attack at NJ Fire, Another Man Found Dead in Basement

The firefighter was a lifelong volunteer for the Hopelawn Fire Department

By Brian Thompson
|  Wednesday, Nov 14, 2012  |  Updated 11:38 PM EDT
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Two Dead in Woodbridge House Fire

HonoringHeroes.com

Bruce Turcotte

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A fire in a Woodbridge, N.J. house has claimed the lives of two people, a firefighter battling the blaze and a man killed inside the home, authorities said.

A man died in the basement and the veteran firefighter suffered a fatal heart attack while battling the fire, officials said.

Firefighters were called to 33 Jefferson St. at about 1:20 p.m., according to Woodbridge Township spokesman John Haggarty.

A neighborhood resident described encountering the fire.

"I was driving up the avenue with my grandma, and I saw huge flames coming from that window," said Anthony Cesareo.

Firefighters were told at first the house was vacant, but one of the owners went to the firefighters to tell them her partner was inside.

Firefighters found the deceased male victim in the basement, said Haggarty. He has not been identified.

Then, veteran firefighter Bruce Turcotte, from the nearby Hopelawn Fire Department, was found slumped over the wheel of his truck, officials said.

"The medics were here, they went to work on him right away," said Ed Mullen, Iselin fire chief. "Unfortunately, he didn't survive. He had a pulse, they said. They got him to the hospital, he passed away at the hospital."

Turcotte was pronounced dead at JFK Hospital.

Woodbridge Mayor John McCormac told NBC New York Thursday Turcotte was a dedicated firefighter in the community.

"Mr. Turcotte joined the firehouse as soon as he turned 18," said McCormac. "He's been a volunteer for 40 years in the Hopelawn Fire Company. This is just a terrible tragedy. He was an amazing, wonderful man. The whole community will miss him."

Turcotte's two sons are also firefighters, said McCormac, who said he turned to Turcotte frequently regarding fire department matters.

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