Fatal Toms River Valentine’s Day house fire ruled accidental
The St. Valentine's Day house fire that cost a Toms River woman her life is determined to be accidental. Investigators did not offer a definitive cause, but noted that discarded smoking material could not be dismissed as a possibility.
Ellen Tanner, 64, was unable to escape the Fiddlers Run home as flames engulfed it at about 11 AM on February 14.. Her death is attributed to smoke inhalation and heat-related injuries, according to the office of Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato.
Investigators traced the origin to a plastic trash container near the south wall of the basement.
Two officers who were first to respond entered the dwelling in a fruitless attempt to find the victim through dense smoke.
As the blaze accelerated, a 67-year-old man, identified by sources close to the probe as the victim's husband, tried desperately to re-enter the house, and sustained burns to both hands before he was pulled back by police.
Firefighters subsequently tried to rescue her, entering through the flames, clad in protective gear. One firefighter who was not identified was briefly hospitalized for treatment of second-degree burns to the neck and ear.