CLIFTON, N.J. (PIX11) — A New Jersey community lost three of its longtime neighbors in a horrific house fire on Friday.
The fire broke out around 7:30 p.m. and quickly spread through the home on Ladwick Lane in Clifton. Neighbors had nothing but nice things to say about the victims, who officials identified as Steven Warga, 65, Elaine Warga, 71, and 95-year-old Helen Popovich. They were all pronounced dead at the scene.
Neighbor Francisco Pina told PIX11 News he had walked by the house moments before the fire broke out.
“It was mind-blowing. You never think … I was walking the dog a half an hour before and it was all fine and all of a sudden the whole house was up in flames. It was incredible. You could feel the heat all the way to the corner,” he said.
Witnesses said one victim was trapped in the basement.
“I guess he was trying to put the fire out when it happened and he got trapped in there,” Pina said.
Neighbors said the family lived in the home for about 20 years and were planning a trip to visit a son in another state.
“She was a very friendly, nice lady, always very friendly,” Chris Kulanusorstit said of one of the victims.
A fourth person was taken to a hospital. Authorities described their condition as stable.
The cause of the fire remained undetermined, as of Saturday morning. The investigation was active and ongoing, officials said.
The Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office asked anyone with additional information about this incident to contact the tips line at 1-877-370-PCPO or email@example.com.