A devastating fire in Middletown, New Jersey, took the lives of an 18-year-old girl and her pet dog. Aubree Larusso, recent graduate of Middletown North High School, was trapped in her bedroom when the fire started. Also home during the fire were her mother, brother, and a family friend, but all escaped unharmed, according to the Middletown Patch.
"Her bedroom was off of the living room area, and the fire originated in or near the living room. The fire blocked her access to leave the home," Chris Swendeman, a spokesman for the local county prosecutor, told the Patch. The cause of the fire was deemed accidental.
Aubree’s cousin, Casey Kwiatkowski, created a GoFundMe page for the LaRusso’s recovery efforts. The town’s high school has also been offering counseling for those grieving. Friend and neighbor Bethany DePalo told NFPA, “It’s crazy to think she’s gone. I feel like everyone in the town is affected by her passing. Word spread very quickly, and in a way this unbelievable tragedy is actually bringing people closer together.”
Another New Jersey fire recently made headlines this month when five children from Union City were killed in a residential fire. New Jersey legislators have introduced home fire sprinkler bills this year in an attempt to prevent these disasters from happening in the future. For more information on additional sprinkler-related efforts in New Jersey, visit the New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Coalition page.