New York

Elderly Man Dies in Roaring Fire That Spread to Nearby Buildings in New Jersey: Officials

What to Know

  • A fast-moving fire left a 90-year-old man dead and damaged at least three homes in Elizabeth, New Jersey, firefighters say
  • The man's grandson said his grandfather, Cesar Prats, was the man who died in the Monday morning fire
  • The fire started on the first floor of the home and worked its way up to the second floor and spread to homes on both sides, officials say

An elderly man died in a fast-moving fire that chewed through at least three homes in New Jersey and left neighbors running out into the cold air.

Cesar Prats, 90, was found dead inside a Marshall Street home in Elizabeth after a fire broke out around 1 Monday morning, according to Elizabeth Fire Chief Thomas McNamara. The grandson of Prats confirmed his identity to NBC 4 New York. 

Dan Cintron was in shock to learn his grandfather had died in the house that he called home since the 70s. 

"He didn't cook so it surprises how something like this could happen," he said.  

McNamara said once firefighters arrived at the scene they found heavy smoke and flames overtaking the first floor of the home. He said the blaze quickly moved onto the second floor of the home and then spread to buildings on both sides, damaging both.

Firefighters found Prats dead inside on the first floor after the fire was deemed under control more than two hours later, McNamara said. The proximity of the homes in the neighborhood made the fire fight more difficult.  

“We’re in a tight-knit community the homes are very close together," McNamara said at the scene. "Units got here very quickly but the amount of fire we had on arrival overwhelmed the structure."

The Red Cross responded to help with emergency assistance.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether anyone inside the other buildings were injured, nor what may have sparked the blaze. 

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