Police identify victims of fatal North Plainfield apartment fire
Authorities have identified the victims of a fatal North Plainfield apartment complex fire that erupted last last month as a 72-year-old resident and his 61-year-old wife.
According to a statement from Acting Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson, Robert and Patricia Collin were positively identified as the victims by the New Jersey Regional Medical Examiner’s Office. The ME's office was able to identify the couple with the assistance of a forensic odonatologist — commonly known as a forensic dentist — who used dental records to make a positive identification, authorities said.
The couple resided in Unit 23H, one of several that were deemed "uninhabitable" as a result of the blaze at the Regency Apartment Complex. According to North Plainfield Police Chief William Parenti, the fire broke out at 11:48 a.m. Detectives from the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Fire Investigation Unit and the North Plainfield Police Department are continuing to investigate the cause of the blaze, which police say "does not appear to be suspicious."
Immediately following the fire, Parenti told NJ 101.5 that the fire could have claimed the life of a third victim, if not for the efforts of Officer Jordan Rogers, a rookie cop who entered the burning apartment complex and pulled a 92-year-old man to safety.
Rogers said he was at police headquarters working on a report when the fire call came in. He and another officer responded to the apartment complex and entered the building in an attempt to make sure everyone was evacuated. As he was exiting, Rogers said, he saw the elderly man having difficulty making his way out of the building. He picked the man up and carried him outside where EMS crews gave him medical attention.
Following the fire, the American Red Cross administered emergency assistance and temporary lodging to 14 people in eight families. The workers distributed “comfort kits” to the families who lost their homes, provided counseling and helped refer the affected families to services that will provide long-term assistance, the Red Cross said in a statement.
Toniann Antonelli is a social content producer for NJ 101.5. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @ToniRadio1015.
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