Woman killed in 2-alarm house fire in New Jersey

RAHWAY, New Jersey (WABC) -- A fast-moving house fire in New Jersey Wednesday morning left one woman dead.

The fire broke out around 6:15 a.m. on Washington Street near Routes 1 and 9 by Grand Avenue in Rahway.

Newscopter 7 was over the scene as firefighters worked to get the flames under control.

Four family members were inside the home when the fire started, and all but one made it out alive.

Shonda Smith, 44, somehow became trapped in a second floor bedroom. She was later discovered dead inside the home. Firefighters tried desperately to reach her.

"They had a fully involved house fire on arrival, fire on all floors, a report of one victim in the house," said Rahway Fire Chief Michael Roberts. "They made an aggressive interior attack, laddered to the second floor and located the victim up on the second floor, but unfortunately she was deceased."

Church members stopped by to show support to the family.

"She had such a smile, such a personality that was winsome with anyone she came in contact with, not just her family but her community, even people who she worked with," said Bishop Charles W. Harris, Jr., Bethel Church of Love and Praise.

The victim's brother and son stood outside visibly shaken by the horrible turn of events. The victim's mother had just retired after working 40 years in the Newark Public School system.

Now the family is devastated.

"Under the circumstances, they are holding up well, it's the prayer that's keeping them and as you can see the camaraderie from the community coming to encourage her, and we are here for her as well, her church family," Bishop Harris said.
Several residents were left homeless by the blaze.

There were working smoke detectors inside the home. The cause of the fire is under investigation, although it is not considered suspicious.

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John DelGiorno reports from Newscopter 7 over the scene.


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