Three men were found dead inside a burning abandoned building in New Jersey early Sunday morning.
According to a friend of the victims, who would only identify himself as Manny, the three men were unemployed and squatting in the building on Reock Street in Orange.
Officials say the fire began around 1 a.m. on the third floor of the building, where the three men were living. When firefighters arrived, the entire third floor was engulfed in flames.
Anthony Ambrose, a detective with the Essex County Prosecutor's Office, said firefighters heard the men screaming but were unable to get to them in time.
Once firefighters were able to get the fire under control they discovered the men's bodies.
"They should not have been inside," Ambrose said. "The building itself was boarded up and not functioning."
The cause of the fire remains unclear. Authorities are continuing to investigate.
The victims' friend said the men had been squatting there the entire winter and that they would often light fires to stay warm.
Officials say at least one other man who was squatting on a lower floor was able to escape the fire.
The names of the victims have not been released.