An Aug. 13 fire that gutted two townhouses in Laurel Commons was ruled accidental, fire officials said. "Discarded smoking materials" in a plastic container ignited a rear deck and swept up the building, creating major damage.
According to Toms River Fire Prevention Bureau Director Jim Mercready, the fire began on the rear deck of Muskflower Court, caused by "discarded smoking materials being placed in a plastic container on the rear deck of the unit."
"The fire ignited the combustible deck and travelled vertically up the exterior wall of the structure which then spread into the interior portion of the building," Mercready said.
Unit 194's rear deck and living area were in flames, and unit 193 was also completely destroyed by the fire, Mercready said.
"Unit 192 suffered smoke and water damage, and unit 191 was unaffected by the fire with the exception of utilities being secured to the unit," Mercready said. "Additionally, melted vinyl siding attributed to radiant heat was noted on 201 Muskflower Court, which is the adjacent building."
The fire drew emergency response from all six Toms River fire companies, as well as neighboring towns. Mercready credits the response with preventing additional damage.
"Through the outstanding effort of firefighters, two of the units were saved. All six Toms River Township fire companies as well as mutual aid companies responded to the blaze," he said. "Three firefighters were treated for heat related injuries at Community Medical Center and released."
Mercready said the construction of the townhouses also meant a slower-spreading fire, due to "two-hour fire separation assembly" between each unit.
"Townhouses are treated as attached single family dwellings that have a two-hour fire separation assembly between each unit to slow the horizontal spread of fire to the adjoining unit," he said. "The fire separation assembly between units 192 and 193 stopped the horizontal spread of the fire until firefighters were able to advance hose lines to cut-off the fire spread to units 191 and 192."
The fire investigation was conducted by Inspector John Novak of the Toms River Bureau of Fire Prevention, Toms River Police and the Ocean County Prosecutors Office.