A 49-year-old woman died and her 18-year-old daughter is hospitalized in critical condition after a four-alarm blaze burned through at least three buildings in New Jersey early Wednesday, authorities said.
Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage said faulty wiring in the carriage house on Mellon Place where the women lived ignited the flames, which quickly spread to two adjacent buildings shortly after 2:30 a.m.
Bollwage said an above-ground oil tank outside the carriage house accelerated the blaze.
Emma Valdivia Ramirez and her daughter were trapped on the second floor of the carriage house, and firefighters couldn't reach them quickly because of security bars on the window, according to Fire Chief Thomas McNamara.
The women couldn't get out using the stairs because of the flames and intense heat. Firefighters had to use tools to pry the bars off and they were able to rescue the 18-year-old daughter.
Six firefighters and two police officers suffered minor injuries battling the blaze; no one in the other buildings that caught fire was hurt.
Authorities say the cause of the fire was deemed accidental, but Bollwage said there was a litany of code issues with the carriage house. The investigation is ongoing.