Smoking suspected in deadly Cherry Hill fire

Firefighters found flames coming from an occupied house on Laurel Hill Drive in Cherry Hill. The fire was put out quickly but a person was found dead inside the home. (Steve Skipton /

Inquirer staff writer Sam Wood reports:

Careless smoking is believed to be the cause of a late night fire that killed a wheelchair-bound man in Cherry Hill, authorities said.

Neighbors called 911 about 11:30 p.m. reporting the acrid stench of smoke in the Charleston Woods section of the township.

When firefighters arrived on the unit block of Laurel Hill Drive, they found a ranch house engulfed in flames, said Chief Robert Giorgio of the Cherry Hill Fire Department.

About 45 firefighters battled the blaze and placed it under control in 23 minutes. As they pushed back the flames, firefighters discovered the body of an elderly man lying on the bed of a second floor bedroom.

The disabled man, who was not immediately identified, had required a wheelchair and a walker to move about his house.

It was unclear this morning if the home was outfitted with smoke detectors, Giorgio said.

The county Fire Marshal’s office and the Camden County Prosecutor’s office are investigating.

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