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3-Year-Old Boy, Mom Killed In Scotch Plains Fire

(credit: Steve Sandberg/1010 WINS)

(credit: Steve Sandberg/1010 WINS)

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SCOTCH PLAINS, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – Authorities are investigating the cause of a house fire that claimed the lives of a 32-year-old mother and her 3-year-old son in Scotch Plains.

Firefighters had to force their way into the home on Church Avenue after neighbors reported smoke coming from the second floor around 7:15 p.m. Tuesday.

1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports

The fire was extinguished within five minutes and the damage was confined to the second story of the duplex, Police Chief Brian Mahoney told The Star-Ledger of Newark.

Katherine Halverson and her son, Jeremy Scott McDonald, were pronounced dead at a hospital. Authorities are still unsure what caused their deaths.

“It’s just breaking my heart, that baby was a beautiful little boy,” one neighbor told 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg. “It’s just horrible.”

The family’s dog also died.

Mahoney said the victims lived with another family member who was not injured.

The Union County Prosecutor’s Office is investigating whether the fire was suspicious.

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)