EDISON - Witnesses to a fatal fire at a Point Pleasant Beach motel told 911 operators that people were still trapped inside as the building burned.
The 911 calls were released Friday, and they tell a harrowing story about the fire that's believed to have been caused by a cigarette left in a smoking area.
The fire at the Mariner's Cove Motor Inn at Broadway and Channel Drive started at 5:30 a.m on March 21. The Ocean County Prosecutor says the cigarette was stuffed in a chair on the second floor.
The dispatcher asked one caller if he thought anyone is still inside the the motel. "Yes, there are people trapped in the building," was the response.
The four who were trapped never got out in time. Officials say 45-year-old John Alberti, 20-year-old Paulo Martins, 52-year-old Harold Ford, and 66-year-old Albert Sutton died in the fire.
Eight other people were injured.
At the time of the fire, 40 people were living at Mariner's Cove, some of whom were Sandy victims waiting on more permanent housing.