Pastor Dies From Burns Suffered in NJ Rectory Fire

Authorities say Rev. James Reilly was a smoker, and other priests say he often fell asleep on the couch in the St. Michael's Church rectory

Monday, Mar 19, 2012  |  Updated 6:36 AM EDT
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In Memoriam

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The longtime pastor of a Roman Catholic church in northern New Jersey has died from severe burns he suffered in a church rectory fire last week.

Church officials tell The Record that the Rev. James Reilly died early Saturday, one week after being burned over 40 percent of his body.

Two adjunct priests who also lived in the St. Michael's Church rectory in Palisades Park were able to safely escape the March 10 blaze, which started on a couch in Reilly's room while the 69-year-old pastor was sleeping.

Authorities say Reilly was a smoker, and other priests say he often fell asleep on the couch.

One of the adjunct priests heard the fire alarm and ran to Reilly's room, but couldn't reach him because the door was locked.

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