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Prosecutor: Deaths Ruled Accidental For 6 Family Members Killed In Newark Fire

Six people were killed in a fire on Sunday, June 15, 2014 in Newark, NJ. (credit: CBS 2)

Six people were killed in a fire on Sunday, June 15, 2014 in Newark, NJ. (credit: CBS 2)

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NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The six family members who were killed in a fire in Newark this past weekend all died of smoke inhalation, and their deaths were accidental, prosecutors said Wednesday.

The fire broke out just before 4 a.m. Sunday in a home on South 15th Street. The blaze spread to another home and went on to destroy both structures.

Salome Stewart and her husband, Reginald Stewart, both 58, were killed in the fire, along with Salome Stewart’s sister, 47-year-old Natasha Kinsale, who all lived in the house.

Three visiting family members – Noreen “Michelle” Johnson and her son, Stephon Sydney, 15, of Crawford, Georgia; and 11-year-old Zion Forbes, of East Orange, also died.

Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray announced Wednesday that all the victims died of smoke inhalation, and carbon monoxide inhalation also contributed to the deaths of Johnson, Sydney, and Salome Stewart.

The cause of the fire remained under investigation Wednesday. But authorities said plastic flowers that had been placed in front of the house and on the porch might have been a conduit for the blaze.

Murray said on Tuesday that the fire was started by an unknown heat source. She said no criminal intent has been found, but is asking for the public’s help to provide “any information anyone might have about a match, any kind of cigarette or something like a lighter.”

Interim Newark Mayor Luis A. Quintana said he will introduce an ordinance to place limitations on the use of the plastic flowers for outside decoration.

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