Prosecutors: Careless Smoking To Blame In Deadly Motel Fire - New York News

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Prosecutors: Careless Smoking To Blame In Motel Fire That Killed 4

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POINT PLEASANT, N.J. -

Authorities have released the identities of four of the victims killed in last week's motel fire at the Jersey Shore, and they're now saying how they believe the fire started.

A preliminarily investigation shows it was an improperly discarded cigarette that allegedly started the blaze at the Mariner's Cove Motor Inn in Point Pleasant, Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato announced in a news release Monday afternoon.

The fire originated in a stuffed chair along the east wall of the motel's designated smoking area on the second floor.

"The team of investigators from federal, state, county, and local departments arrived at their findings thanks to the expert forensic assistance of the Ocean County High Tech Crime Unit in recovering critical video from the severely damaged motel surveillance system," the news release states. "As the investigation moves forward the investigative team will continue to analyze the recovered video, pre and post scene photos, along with interviews of motel guests and management."

Autopsies of the four victims concluded that the cause of death was smoke inhalation and the manner was accidental for all four victims, according to the medical examiner's office.

One victim has been positively identified as John Alberti, 45, of Keansburg, N.J. The three others, all New Jersey residents, are tentatively identified as: Paulo Martins, 20, of South River; Harold Ford, 52, of Twin Lake Heights/Neptune; and Albert Sutton, 66, of Mount Laurel.

All next of kin have been notified, officials said, and they're continuing to using DNA testing and other forensic methods to achieve positive identifications.

The investigation into the fire is ongoing, and anyone with information regarding the fire is asked to contact Det. Thomas Haskell Jr. of the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office at 732-929-2027 or the confidential tip line at www.oceancountyprosecutor.org.

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