Four People Killed In Middletown, N.J. Fire

MIDDLETOWN, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) –A New Jersey father escaped a fire that tore through his home in Middletown, but his family did not.

The six-alarm fire killed four people in all, including his wife and daughter, reports CBS 2’s Christine Sloan.

Neighbors say Stephen Banovich, the only person to escape the flames that engulfed his home, watched helplessly as his wife and daughter, her boyfriend, and his sister-in-law perished in the fire.

1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports: Family Killed In Middletown Fire

img 2968 Four People Killed In Middletown, N.J. Fire

Firefighters investigate a deadly blaze in Middletown, NJ on April 19, 2011 (credit: Steve Sandberg/1010 WINS)

“You could see he was distraught, had his hand to his face, like shaking,” another neighbor, Kristen Dressler, said. “Neighbors had to console him.”

Neighbor Ted Magee said his wife apparently heard Banovich yell, “My wife! My daughter! Somebody help us!”

“I looked out the window and was like ‘Oh my God’. I called my husband, started crying,” said neighbor Phyllis Nitti.

Nitti said Banovich ran to her house and told her he was inside his house when suddenly he was engulfed in smoke. He managed to find the front door to the house and got out.

WCBS 880’s Levon Putney: The Father Was The Only One To Make It Out Alive

Nitti said Banovich told her when he turned around to go back inside to save his family, there was a wall of flames.

“He came out and thought his sister-in-law was behind him, and turned, and she wasn’t,” neighbor Ted Magee said. “He couldn’t get back in there…there was no way.”

The fire broke out at about 3 a.m. Tuesday morning inside the house on Statesir Place in Middletown, New Jersey.

The victims were identified as 63-year-old Sheri Banovich, her 23-year-old daughter, Deidre, Deidre’s 25-year-old boyfriend, Anthony Cadalzo, and Banovich’s sister-in-law, 60-year-old Denise Dusold.

Cadalzo’s distraught aunt told CBS 2 that the family is devastated.

“We all had a hand in taking care of him,” Rene Miller said. “We had a big family…we’re close…so this is hard for us.”

Cadalzo was separated from his estranged wife, Crystal, with whom he has a child, and was staying with the Banovich family. Crystal Cadalzo was also friends with Deidre.

“She was a good person – sweet, funny girl, heart of gold,” Crystal said. “They both had a heart of gold, they’d do anything for anybody.”

Prosecutors said a cigarette or lighting material they suspect caused the fire was left inside a first-floor waste basket.

“Broke my heart, because I knew them for 20 years, and they were really nice people,” neighbor Dan Noboe said.

More from Christine Sloan
  • Chris

    Everyone who responded are to be commended. Everyone did everything that they could possibly do in this situation. Even if the firemen arrived at the house seconds after the flames first started to ignite the house, it would have been impossible for them -or anyone else, to have saved any lives, because the fire swept through the home extremely fast.

    The fire engulfed the house so fast, that the poor family never even had the chance to escape by running out of there. If they had even seconds to escape, they would have done so. There was no time. The fire was that fast.

    All of the (volunteers & paid) firefighters; police; EMTs and neighbors, did a great job and we should all be proud of them -Period.

  • cookie

    WOW!!! how absurb is all of this, all you people need to get a grip!! lets put all that negative focus away, how about you pay the poor man a visit& see what you can do to help him, he sure as hell needs it. lets see who can be a good neighbor!!!!

  • SadNJ

    SHAME ON ALL OF YOU! Deidre was a fellow classmate & friend, this is a HORRIFIC tradgedy & such topics should not be rambled on about after 4 people lost their lives. You have no respect for all their grieving loved ones. I thank the firefighter for everything they did! It was a terrible terrible accident. End of story.
    Deidre, you are DEEPLY missed </3
    RIP & God Bless

    • Lisa

      Absolutely! This is not a forum for who is a better, faster fireman, take your ego’s somewhere else. Deidre was my daughter. I gave her up for custody 23 years ago, hand picked this couple to be her parents, her family. As grateful as I am for the long distance relationship my 2 sons and I have developed over the years since she found us on myspace, Deidre was coming to visit and meet her other family. I will never get to hold the daughter I held 23 years ago again. My heart and prayers are with her father, May God hold him up and carry him through this tragedy. Deidre was a gift, now she is an Angel.

      • Lisa

        My apologies, not custody, Adoption

  • John Drucker

    I am volunteer with the Middletown Township Fire Department. As a matter of fact I was at this fire riding in on the Ladder Truck. We use the I am responding system and our units arrived within minutes. This home was deemed a working structure fire upon dispatch and arrival of career police units, the witnesses also bear this out. We mustered multiple units, a truck, eight engines, the air support unit our fire chiefs a total of appx 55 volunteers in all. The fire was so intense that master streams from the truck were required to knock the fire down so crews could gain entry. We did our jiobs having served the township for over a hundred years. Those are the facts, I was there. Career or Volunteer people are going to loose their lives in fires, some are just too far gone in order for the fire department to make a save, happens in New York City (Career) and it happens, thankfully infrequently in Middletown (Volunteer). Want to make a difference install smoke alarms and fire sprinklers in homes and the carnage will end.

    • John Drucker

      To the family we are truly saddened, to our neighbors and friends we tried, to those who lost their lives may you rest in peace. A terrible day for our town.

      Sincerely and heartfelt

      John Drucker
      Station 8
      Middletown Township Fire Department

      • Kay

        I grew up in Middletown – lived there for 25 years – across the hwy from this fire. Without a doubt in my mind, I know the Middletown FD did their best. You are appreciated more than you know. I’m sure it was a sad day for all of you.

        To the 4 that lost their lives , may you RIP. To the father who survived… may you find strength to bare this loss and be surrounded by the love of friends and extended family. You are in my prayers.

      • Barbara Banovich-Mroz

        Dear Mr. Drucker:

        I am speaking for our remaining family members in saying that all of us, my brother Steve, the survivor of this terrible tragedy, my brother Michael, a NYC fireman, and my sister Eileen in saying that we are truly grateful for all you and Station 8 and everyone else did to try and save our family.

        Here are some facts for anyone who might be interested – this house was constructed in such a way that the room where the fire started was completely contained. All doors in and out of this room were closed and cut off from the rest of the house being on a lower level. My brother, sister-in-law and her sister were located on an upper level of the house where the bedrooms were. Between these two levels was the main level – the living room, and the kitchen. My niece Deidre and Anthony were on the lower level where the fire started. By the time Steve and Denise (who woke him up) became aware of the smoke in the house, the room, two levels below them was probably totally engulfed in flames. The smoke was so acrid and burning when Steve and Denise reached the main level of the house, that Steve ran to open the door to get air in and let smoke out. Denise ran to the kitchen apparently to call 911. Neither of them had any idea of the horror that was apparently raging on the floor below them. Once Steve got out of the house, he saw that no one else was out there and Denise, who was behind him, was no longer behind him. He desperately tried to get back inside, but, as neighbors reported, the flames were 30 feet high and if he, who had just stumbeled out of the house could not get back in, how in the name of heaven could anyone else get in at a later time, no matter how sooner or later when he could not in just a matter of seconds?

        All of us in our family know that the fire trucks arrived at an already raging fire with absolutely no potential for saving anyone. That Steve escaped with his life – saved by Denise – is a miracle. And sometimes Steve has moments wherein he wishes he was not saved. He does not consider himself lucky – he notes that apparently God is not finsihed with him yet. But fortunate? No.

        So please accept our heartfelt gratitude for all you did – we know you tried – we know that your job is not an easy one and our brother Mike the fireman knows all too well how you feel when you are unable to save a life – let alone four of them.

        We have subsequently seen how beautiful and generous people can be with the outpouring of clothes, money, food, gift baskets, love and all else that restores faith in humanity. Of most importance have been the prayers for Steve which my family believes are the most precious gift.

        So please extend our gratitude to your colleagues at Station 8 and know that we too remember you in grateful prayer! Keep safe and God’s blessings.

        Barbara Banovich-Mroz

  • Disgusted

    This entire exchange is a perfect example of how broke we are as a nation and I do not mean fiscally. I mean nobody gets along nor does anybody want to get along. Paid vs volunteer, who the hell cares. Four people are dead, the sole survivor will never be right in the head ever again. Those of you arguing on here about this, remember the human toll exacted by this fire.

  • TF

    Jack is obviously here to troll more than discuss. The real issue here is smoke detectors. We say all the time that they save lives and here’s an unfortunate example. Paid or volunteer does not matter. The fire was found out far too late.

  • Danielle

    Can you people focus on the loss of four individuals? The young couple had a child together. It’s a very sad day to the people who knew them. And very sad for the child who is left without parents.

  • Sue Zibutis

    Jojo – I don’t think Ms Becker was refering to your comment. Someone had responded prior to yours and I think that’s the one she was refering to. The Middletown Fire Dept. is absolutley fantastic as far as I’m concerned. And I do think they have a skeleton crew in the building.

  • Seriously

    Focus people !!! The concern should be about this man who lost his family not paid vs volunteer firemen . Geez. Middletown TS is huge – there are more than one fire house that respond . There is a firehouse within a minute from this neighborhood – across the HWY. There is virtually no traffic at 3am on these roads. It wasnt a matter of “time” . They probably wouldnt have been able to save the house regardless of whether they are volunteers or not. This is devastating . Enough with the banter . Get off the soap box and stop attacking people . Seems like some people just NEED to be right – regardless of the situation.

  • Albert Lambiase

    Living in Middletown NJ for thirty years I can state for a fact from the time you call the fire dept. they respond with 1 to 2 minutes. These volunteers are very fast and dedicated to what they do.

    • jack

      So your telling me that if a house fire comes in at 2am , a human being can get out of bed, get dressed, drive to the firehouse, put his gear on, get in a fire truck and drive to the scene in a minute? Damn, they should go to other firehouses and explain how this is done so that the rest of us volunteers can learn how to pick up the pace! (WITHOUT killing anyone on the roadway)

      • Junior

        Go away union turd! The way it sounds, they would not be able to be saved paid or volunteer.

      • Union Buster

        Take your paid union FD propoganda somewhere else! There are many places in this country that have VFD’s that blow away that of any overpaid FD.

      • jack

        Not to mention waiting for a full crew!

  • jack

    Here’s a NEWS TIP!!!!! The attack at the WTC occurred on September 11th not November 11th, as Kristen Thorne reported on your 12pm edition of CBS2 NEWS! How in Gods name can she forget the date of one of the most devastating attacks on U.S. citizens? This should be considered one of the biggest embarrassments your channel has ever faced. She should be released immediately!

  • Eric

    The Middletown Township Fire Department has a response time that rivals many paid departments and as volunteers they save the township millions of dollars. That statement that above is truly false. Over 70 percent of firefighters in the U.S. are volunteers and provide the same professional response as paid departments.

    • jack

      I am both a paid firefighter and a volunteer for another community. You are partially right, in some volunteer depts. they are getting the same professional response, unfortunately they are not getting the same response times! you can not say that everytime a volunteer dept. gets a run that there is adequate manpower available to respond. Times and even days of the week come into play regarding this matter! Simple logic states that if you have a manned firehouse vs a firehouse that has to wait for members to respond to the firehouse ,wait for a full crew and then respond to scene, that the manned house would be capable of arriving first! As you know in this game minutes count!

  • jojo

    Unfortunately, many counties in NJ have volunteer firefighters. These volunteers could be out & about or at a bar, restaurant etc. They get paged and have to go to the firehouse and then go to the fire. It takes time and unfortunately your house can burn to the ground before they get their. Very sad.

    • Junior

      OK Jojo, then you would cry more about your taxes! How about a non-union paid FD??? Willing to go that route? Bet not.

    • Ann Becker

      That comment was totally uncalled for. These men volunteer to help their neighbors without any compensation. They often get burned and injured and people like you sit back and calll them names. SHAME ON YOU. . L.

      • jojo

        Ms. Becker, whatever medication you did not take today please take it. Where did I call anyone names in my post? I have nothing but admiration for people who volunteer to help fight fires in their communities and I do know they can and are sometimes injured in the line of duty. There have been a few fires in my community and I have to say it took over 12 to 15 minutes. I am a firm believer that every township should have a fire dept full time. So Chill lady and don;t get your panties in a bunch

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