LAURENCE HARBOR, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – A fast-moving fire was blamed Thursday for the deaths of an elderly couple in Middlesex County, New Jersey.
As CBS2’s Scott Rapoport reported, the fire broke out just after midnight Thursday in a small house on Harding Road, in the Laurence Harbor community in Old Bridge Township. The blaze burned so intensely that some neighbors down the street feared for their own safety.
“It woke me up in the middle of the night, because, you know, I smelled the smoke,” said neighbor Tracy Dupree. “And it was so intense, I thought it was in my house.”
Firefighters early Thursday pulled two bodies from the rubble. Neighbors have identified the two as Barbara and Bob Hogan, both in their 70s, who were married and had lived at the home for 43 years, 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck reported.
Barbara Hogan had worked as a drug and alcohol counselor who used to hold classes in her home, Bob Hogan as a heating furnace installer, Schuck reported.
“They are like parents to me. I moved here eight years ago and we kind of adopted each other,” neighbor Joan said. “They were in their 70s, they’re pillars in the community and you couldn’t have asked for better neighbors or better friends.”
Neighbors were beyond stunned.
“Oh my God, I was devastated,” said neighbor Jacquline Stevens.
“Oh, it horrible. It’s horrible,” another neighbor said.
Neighbors described the Hogans as kind people — homebodies who for years liked to tend to the tulips in their garden. But they said the couple was sickly and in poor health.
“She was on oxygen. That is what I knew. She was on oxygen,” Dupree said.
That was a concern for some neighbors, because they said both Bob and Barbara Hogan were smokers.
“Yeah, I often wondered about that,” said neighbor Ted Rekiec. “Me and some neighbors talked about it. We said, ‘You know they use oxygen in the house, and yet she smokes.’”
As of late Thursday afternoon, authorities did not have an official cause of the blaze and were investigating.