suspicious NJ squat fire leaves 1 dead, 3 injured, 11 homeless

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Tue, 5 May 1998 17:22:04 -0700 (PDT)


http://www.bergen.com/paterson/bodyjb19980502.htm
The Bergen Record Online - New Jersey


BODY IN BURNED HOUSE IDENTIFIED


Friday, May 1, 1998

By JUSTO BAUTISTA
Staff Writer

PATERSON -- The man whose body was discovered in a
burned-out squatters' house four days after a fire was
identified Thursday as Ronald Hunter, authorities said.

Hunter, 39, may have been one of the homeless people who
frequented 145 Hamilton Ave., said Martin Kayne, Passaic
County senior assistant prosecutor.

Hunter's body was discovered by a county arson investigator
Wednesday morning beneath debris in a second-floor
apartment. Police said he died of smoke inhalation.

Three people were injured and 11 were left homeless in the
Saturday morning fire, which is under investigation. Intense
flames ruined 145 Hamilton Ave. and also damaged an
adjacent house and a utility pole.

The fire spread so fast that it was labeled suspicious by
investigators.

The huge amount of debris and unstable walls had prevented
investigators from searching the building thoroughly until
Wednesday.

Three to five people lived in the house but did not pay rent.
Neighbors said the residents used kerosene lamps for light.
Police said the house was in foreclosure and is owned by a
bank.

Hunter was often seen sitting on the front steps of 145
Hamilton Ave. and socializing with others who lived in the
house, said a nearby resident. The resident said Hunter may
have worked as a garbage collector at one time and that "I
would see him on the street boxing, hitting the wind, walking
fast.

"He never bothered anybody. I guess the poor fellow just got
trapped," the resident said.

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