The scene at Evergreen Terrace hours after the fatal blaze. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)
By JOHN T. WARD
Relatives and community members remembered the 90-year-old lifelong borough resident as loving and attentive.
Volunteer firefighters on scene Wednesday morning. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)
Davis was alone in a single-story apartment, one of 50 reserved for seniors and handicapped tenants, at the time of the 6:20 a.m. blaze.
Nearby units were evacuated but not damaged, according to Red Bank Volunteer Fire Department Chief Wayne Hartman.
Sylvia Smith, an “early-riser” Evergreen Terrace resident, told redbankgreen she smelled smoke upon leaving the laundry facility, and with another resident was the first on the scene of the fire.
Finding the front door locked, Smith said she and the other woman pried open the front window but were unable to get inside. They then broke down the door, but encountered heavy black smoke, she said.
“I could see the rug burning, so I snatched it out, and Kim and I got down as close to the floor as we could, to see if I could feel for Hazel,” Smith said. “But I couldn’t feel her, and the smoke was just too thick, it was too heavy.”
“We tried to get her out, but we couldn’t,” Smith said. “We kept calling her name to see if we could hear her moan or answer, but nothing, nothing.”
Smith called Davis “just one of those moms who always talks to you. ‘You doing OK today? What’s the matter with you? You feeling alright?'”
Hazel is is survived by a son, Mark Davis of Tinton Falls; his wife, Nicole Davis; and five grandchildren.
At mid-afternoon, a dozen residents and others gathered in the complex’s community room, located less than 20 feet from the destroyed apartment near Drs. James Parker Boulevard.
Nicole Davis said her mother-in-law had lived at Evergreen Terrace for four years, and was active both in that community and at Calvary Baptist Church.
“She very loving and kind,” she said.
“Everybody knows her and loves her,” Red Bank Housing Authority executive director Lisa Hendricks Richardson told redbankgreen. Neighbors were stopping by the community room throughout the day, area faith leaders came in to offer prayers, and Lunch Break volunteers brought over food, she said.
“The community’s come together behind the tragedy, and I think everybody will be stronger for it,” said Hendricks Richardson.
According to police Captain Mike Frazee, the Fire Marshal’s office has determined the fire was caused by an overheated power strip.
In addition to Red Bank fire volunteers, first responders from Little Silver and Middletown also answered the alarm. The fire department is making grief counseling available to its members and others.
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