Father, 7-Year-Old Son Killed in New Jersey Fire

By Brian Thompson
|  Tuesday, Feb 19, 2013  |  Updated 6:57 AM EDT
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Firefighters say they found the victims huddled together in the bathroom of their apartment in Flanders. Brian Thompson reports.

NBC 4 New York

Firefighters say they found the victims huddled together in the bathroom of their apartment in Flanders. Brian Thompson reports.

New Jersey authorities are investigating an early-morning fire at a house in Flanders that killed a father and his young son, and injured a young daughter.  

The fire was on the first floor of a house subdivided into four apartments, according to Flanders Fire Chief Frank Zeller. Hesham Moustafa, 52, and his 7-year-old son were found huddled together in the bathroom of their apartment.

"It's not a surprise for me to hear something like that," said Mohamed Alezabi, a co-worker of Moustafa at a nearby Dunkin Donuts. "I believe he did that to protect the boy."

Moustafa's wife, who worked at the coffee chain with her husband, and their older teenage daughter managed to escape the fire. 

Zeller said firefighters managed to knock out the interior fire but it reignited as they attempted to rescue victims. They carried Moustafa, his son and another young daughter, who was found inside a back bedroom, outside through the flames.

The younger girl was not breathing when she was brought out of the home but emergency responders were able to revive her. She is in critical condition.

The fire chief described the difficult conditions fighting the blaze inside the home.
 
The firefighters "had no vision," said Zeller. "It was black. Until we got a fan to push smoke out of the building, they had no sight."

A neighbor who did not want to be identified said he tried to help but couldn't get through the flames.

"There was so much smoke and there were so many flames," he said.

"She was just begging for someone to help her save her kids," he said of the mother who escaped the fire. 

The cause and origin of the fire are under investigation.

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