One dead after Laurel Springs fire

July 8, 2009 1:02:22 PM PDT
A 19-year-old man is dead and his girlfriend is in critical condition after a house fire in Laurel Springs, New Jersey.He is identified as Thomas Doherty, 19, the son of the homeowner.

His girlfriend was also taken to the hospital in cardiac arrest after being rescued from the home.

The fire broke out around 6:20 a.m. in the 900 block of Lake View Avenue.

Witnesses say Doherty's father, Liam, tried to pull his son out of a small basement window to safety. Liam Doherty, originally from Ireland, suffers from MS and recently had the home remodeled so he could navigate it with a wheelchair.

"Liam doesn't have the use of his legs, he's confined to a wheelchair and evidently he got out of the house somehow and came around to the other side and was trying to physically get [his son] out of the house," said neighbor Lloyd Shaw.

But, Shaw added, Thomas Doherty was a big man and his father was unable to get him out through the window.

Those who had watched him grow up say he had become a caring young man.

"He was a terrific child to his parents," said family friend Marty Brennan. "He did everything for his family. He treated them with unbelievable care."

A firefighter had to be rescued after having a problem with his air supply. He is expected to be fine.

Liam Doherty was taken to the hospital for observation.

Investigators say the fire appears to be accidental, and may have started in the basement laundry room.

The town of Laurel Springs is asking for donations to help the family.

Visit their website for more information.

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