POINT PLEASANT BEACH, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – Arson investigators were back on the scene of a deadly Jersey Shore motel fire Sunday morning.
Authorities say they will need to use DNA testing and other methods to positively identify the four people killed in the Point Pleasant Beach fire.
Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Spokesman Al Della Fave said Sunday that it wasn’t clear when the victims’ identities would be released. But he said the county Medical Examiner’s Office hoped to have its work completed within the next few days.
Della Fave said fire investigators were still working to determine how and where the fire started.
Investigators on Saturday used dogs specially trained to react to the presence of gasoline or other petroleum products that might have been used to start or accelerate a fire. The dogs sniffed at charred items and building debris at the curb and alongside the motel’s outdoor swimming pool but showed no obvious reaction to anything.
PHOTOS: New Jersey Motel Fire
Task Force One, New Jersey’s elite urban search and rescue team that has responded to disaster scenes around the world, also joined the investigation.
The blaze broke out around 5:30 a.m. Friday at the Mariner’s Cove Motor Inn in Point Pleasant Beach. About 40 people were staying there at the time, including some who had lost their homes in Superstorm Sandy.
Eight others were injured in the fire, three critically. Many of those injured had burns and broken bones.
One of the inn’s residents, Jon Frystock, said he’s alive today because he had to go to the bathroom. He ended up being hailed as a hero for knocking on doors and warning others.
Frystock lost his home during Sandy and had been staying in temporary accommodations since then. He was among 40 people staying at the 25-unit motel when the fire broke out.
The blaze was the second major fire at the Jersey shore in seven months, following a September blaze that destroyed about a third of the boardwalk in Seaside Heights and Seaside Park. The boardwalk had just been rebuilt after Sandy. It is now being rebuilt – again – and many of the same arson investigators who probed the boardwalk fire are investigating the motel blaze as well.
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