Firefighters Battle Blaze In High-Rise, 7 People Injured

Thursday, September 20th 2007, 7:20 pm
By: News On 6

ASBURY PARK, N.J. (AP) _ Fire broke out Thursday in a 15-story apartment building, injuring seven people and temporarily trapping several others on balconies, fire officials said.

All the injured suffered smoke inhalation, including an 80-year-old woman who lived in the apartment where the fire began and was critically hurt. Five firefighters and a juvenile suffered less severe injuries, fire officials said.

The blaze began around 11:20 a.m. in a cluttered 14th story apartment of the Munroe Towers.

Sunovia Williams, 80, was pulled out by firefighters who had to crawl over an array of debris that contributed to the intensity of the blaze and hampered efforts to reach her and her husband, said Garrett Giberson, an Asbury Park fire inspector.

Williams was unconscious but breathing when she was taken to Jersey Shore University Medical Center. She was later transferred to the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, where was she being treated in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber for high levels of carbon monoxide.

The fire was under control by 2 p.m. and had not spread to lower floors. An unknown number of people have been displaced.

The building is one of the tallest buildings in Asbury Park, a community along the Atlantic Ocean. The blaze was too high for ladder trucks, forcing firefighters to fight the flames from inside, Asbury Park fire Capt. Frank Dilello said. He wasn't sure if the building had sprinklers, but said there were hose hookups inside.