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Four killed, eight injured in N.J. motel fire

Investigators were trying the determine the cause of the fire that broke out at the Mariner’s Cover Motor Inn early Friday morning. Survivors described a chaotic scene of flames and smoke; at least one person jumped to escape the fire.

Andrew Mills/The Star Ledger via EPA

Investigators were trying the determine the cause of the fire that broke out at the Mariner’s Cover Motor Inn early Friday morning. Survivors described a chaotic scene of flames and smoke; at least one person jumped to escape the fire.

POINT PLEASANT BEACH, N.J. — A fire early Friday destroyed a New Jersey shore motel that was housing people displaced by Hurricane Sandy, killing four people and injuring eight, authorities said.

The blaze erupted at the wooden Mariner’s Cover Motor Inn in this popular summer resort town at around 5:30 a.m., and flames were shooting out of the building by the time firefighters arrived. At least one person leaped from a second-floor window to escape.

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Three people were injured critically. Other injuries included broken bones.

The discovery of a fourth victim was announced Friday afternoon just before firefighters removed the body on a stretcher. Authorities said all remaining occupants had been accounted for.

The victims were identified as male adults, but the prosecutor’s office said no positive identifications had been made. The cause of the blaze was unknown.

Investigators interviewed motel management, and determined about 40 people were staying there when the fire broke out, Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato said. The motel’s office was destroyed and many records were lost, he said, making an accurate accounting difficult.

Firefighters climbed ladders to reach charred second-floor units and search through them. An aerial ladder was also used to maneuver a firefighter into position to peer into burned rooms.

Survivors described a chaotic scene of flames, smoke, and screaming. Peter Kuch said he smelled smoke and opened his door to find a lounge area engulfed in flames. He dialed 911 to seek help, and by the time the call was completed, the flames were at his door and licking at the windows of his second-floor unit.

He decided to jump. ‘‘I had to, there was no other way out,’’ he said.

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