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Landlord Charged In Connection To Fatal Little Ferry, NJ House Fire

LITTLE FERRY, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office announced an arrest Wednesday in connection to a house fire that claimed the lives of a 5-year-old girl and her grandmother last August.

Authorities arrested landlord Gary L’Heureux, of Tenafly, on charges of knowingly violating New Jersey State fire code.

As CBS2’s Ali Bauman reported at the time, a police officer happened to be driving by the night of Aug. 16th when he heard an explosion, and people started jumping out of windows.

Several people were trapped on the second floor at 109 Washington Ave. in Little Ferry, and were saved by police and firefighters after the blaze broke out around 11:30 p.m.

“We just started trying to break into windows, and the victims started jumping out windows, and pulled several people out of the building,” said Little Ferry police Lt. Chris Boel.

Boel said when he arrived, all he could see was black smoke engulfing the building.

Police said one woman was forced to jump from the third floor, leaving 5-year-old Maribella Colon and her grandmother, Margaret Colon, inside.

Authorities say the little girl died at the hospital the following morning, and her grandmother succumbed to her injuries shortly thereafter.

The explosion and fire originated in the garage area of the home, which was rented to a non-resident for storing motorcycles according to prosecutors.

Despite the house being a three-story dwelling, L’Heureux failed to make the necessary upgrades as mandated by state regulations, according to prosecutors.

Specifically, L’Heureux allegedly failed to maintain or install hard-wired smoke detectors, provide secondary egress or fire escapes, or provide apartment doors on the second and third floors that were required to have self-closure devices, according to authorities.

L’Heureux has been charged with two counts of second degree knowingly violating NJ State fire code, and two counts of third degree knowingly violating NJ State fire code.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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