Union Beach fire commercial fire claims life of volunteer firefighter

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Toni Yates reports from Union Beach where a volunteer fireman died in the line of duty while fighting a fire. (WABC)

A Monmouth County community is mourning the loss of a volunteer firefighter who died while fighting a massive fire in Union Beach.

Robert Meyer, a member of Union Hose Fire Co. #1 in Union Beach, collapsed outside the burning building Sunday evening. An autopsy showed he died of heart attack, according to the office, and the cause of the fire remains under investigation.

"He was just an amazing, compassionate, beautiful spirit," said Gigi Liaguno-Dorr, who is trying to rebuild her bar and restaurant that was destroyed by the storm and who knew Meyer for years. "He was just a good guy. When you volunteer, you literally put other people before yourself, and he was the very definition of that."

Meyer lost his house in Superstorm Sandy and only recently moved into a new home.

"He lost his own home, was living in a trailer, and he and the other firefighters were still helping other people after the storm," Liaguno-Dorr said. "He was the very meaning of bravery. This town is heavy-hearted today."

The flames broke out around 6 p.m. inside Hydrair Inc., a hydraulic and pneumatic tools distributor, on Union Avenue in Union Beach that houses a hydraulic equipment company. It is normally closed on Sundays, so it's not immediately clear if anyone was inside when the fire started.

But once it was called in, trucks came racing to the multi-alarm fire. Meyer had gone in and out of the building several times, and the last time he exited, he collapsed and died, officials said.

The Belford engine company posted the following message on its Facebook page:

"Station 3 lost a brother firefighter today. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends as well as our brother and sisters of the Union Beach FD."

A message board at Meyer's firehouse read "Ultimate Sacrifice, Bob Meyer, June 8, 2014."

Fire investigators returned to the scene on Monday, where they took photos of electrical wiring outside the shop.

Related Topics:
firedeadly firefire deathfirefighter injuredUnion Beach
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