Autopsy released in fatal Margate fire

January 8, 2012 5:45:18 PM PST
Atlantic County officials say a husband and wife died of smoke inhalation from a Margate house fire.

The autopsies completed on Ralph and Jessica Spinosi concluded that the cause of death for both victims was smoke inhalation and the manner of death is accidental.

The search continues for the cause of the fire.

The blaze broke out just before 2:00 a.m. Saturday on North Thurlow Street.

Killed in the blaze were 74-year-old Ralph Spinosi and his wife, 68-year-old Jessica Spinosi, who apparently became trapped inside.

Firefighters tried repeatedly to rescue the couple, but they couldn't.

"There were numerous efforts. We had two or three search teams working simultaneously," explained Chief Anthony Tabasso. "There was a lot of fire, heat and smoke so it makes it very difficult."

Investigators were focusing on a living room in the front of the gutted house as the point of origin.

Mr. Spinosi was located in a front bedroom on the second floor while Mrs. Spinosi was found on the third floor in the back of the house near a bathroom.

The owner of the house, 54-year-old Donna Saber, got out alive and ran to neighbors to have them call 911.

Saber runs the Here Comes the Bride store in Somers Point. The store was locked up Saturday with a note in the window that read "Closed 'til Monday due to personal tragedy".

Margate's mayor says he knows Saber and victim Ralph Spinosi from the hardware store he manages.

"As a customer, we built a relationship with him. He's very artistic, just a nice gentleman," said Mayor Michael Becker.