SOUTH RIVER, N.J.  — One person has died and 15 others were left homeless when a fast-moving fire destroyed a boarding house in central New Jersey.

South River Mayor John Krenzel tells The Star-Ledger of Newark that the three-alarm blaze at the Hotel Pershing started shortly before midnight Monday. The three-story building had 24 rooms, and 19 were occupied.

Krenzel said some tenants were awakened by the smell of smoke and sounded the fire alarms. He said the person killed in the fire was a middle-aged woman who lived on the third floor and had trouble walking. Her name has not been released.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, but Krenzel says it was accidental.

The American Red Cross was providing assistance to the tenants left homeless by the fire.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.