FIRE VICTIM CRITICALLY BURNED

shrewsbury-fire-5-061209Firefighters backlighted by the blaze after they broke through the roof to vent this morning’s fire.

A Shrewsbury man is in critical condition at St. Barnabas Medical Center‘s burn treatment unit following an early morning fire Friday, the second to hit the same house and family in 15 years, authorities say.

A family member tells redbankgreen that 28-year-old Matt Accera has burns over 50 percent of his body.

Meanwhile, investigators have ruled out lightning as the cause of the blaze, which was reported at 1:24a, at the height of a thunderstorm, says Shrewsbury Fire Chief Pete Gibson. He said the origin appears to be household in nature, but the investigation is not complete.

shrewsbury-fire-6-061209The house at 44 Patterson, as seen from Allen Street.

Gibson, who lives five doors away, was the first to arrive on the scene of the blaze at 44 Patterson Avenue, and found flames shooting out of the first-floor windows of the kitchen.

A series of two-man rescue crews entered the house in search of Accera, said to be homeowner Rich Litwin’s son, before fire hoses were available.

Based on information provided to firefighters, the crews raced to the second floor. But it was only after that search proved fruitless that a subsequent search led rescuers to Accera on the first floor, says Gibson.

Litwin experienced smoke inhalation. No firefighters were injured,  says Gibson, who has already nominated eight of them to Mayor Terel Cooperhouse for commendation.

“My guys just got their butts kicked” in the process of the search and rescue, he says.

The fire, which spread to the attic, was quickly brought under control, says Gibson.

Little Silver and Oceanport firefighters also responded, as did Red bank First Aid.

Gibson says he was first to enter the house in the earlier blaze, which he and neighbors say occurred about 15 years ago.

The morning’s fire was the second significant blaze battled by Shrewsbury firefighters in a week, following the conflagration that destoryed Memory Bowling just two blocks away last Friday.