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New Jersey apartment fire causes child injury, death

A fire in New Jersey killed a man and a boy living in an apartment building. The fire started in the early morning, and by the time firefighters arrived, the smoke was so thick and the fire so hot that it hindered their efforts to save the people trapped inside.

Two people managed to get out of the building, but firefighters rescued two other victims. There was no information on one of the injured. The remaining victim, a girl, sustained a severe child injury from major burns on her body. The cause of the fire is unclear, although the local prosecutor is involved in the investigation.

The apartment complex had four units, all of which were supposedly occupied by families. It was not clear how many people lived in the building at the time it burned. There was also no information as to who owns this apartment complex, nor is there anything to suggest at this time that the landlord is responsible for this tragedy. However, this incident still serves as an important reminder to landlords, particularly private individuals who convert a large single-family residence into several apartments or who otherwise operate a small apartment complex.

New Jersey law imposes certain duties on landlords, and one of those duties is to ensure that tenants enjoy a safe and habitable living space. A landlord needs to be sure that the apartment building complies with all state and federal safety regulations and further needs to be sure to keep the building reasonably protected from fires.

A landlord's negligence or carelessness in maintaining an apartment building can prove disastrous and even deadly for the families that live in that landlord's apartments. Those tenants who are injured because of the actions or omissions of a negligent or careless landlord may be able to get compensation for their injuries.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, "Prosecutor: 2 dead, 2 hurt in north NJ house fire," Feb. 18, 2013

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