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SEA ISLE, N.J. (CBS) — The body of an elderly woman has been found a day after a massive fire destroyed several homes in Sea Isle. The Cape May Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement Friday that crews recovered the body of 89-year-old Marie Zielinski in her apartment.
Two others — 56-year-old Elizabeth Coleman and 60-year-old Roy Lombardo — were injured in the fire and taken to Cape Regional Medical Center. Lombardo has been released but Coleman has been transferred to Cooper Medical Center.
A dog named Manu also died in the fire.
A day after crews were called to the fire at 54th Street and Landis Avenue around 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, investigators were hard at work digging through the rubble for a woman family says is a true treasure.
At 89 years old, family says Zielinski was a vibrant woman who enjoyed spending as much time as possible with her children and grandchildren.
“She loved life and she loved her family,” said Zielinski’s son, Christopher Corso. “That was number one to her and we spent a lot of time together here.”
Corso says his mother lived in one-half of Unit 29 on 54th Street. On the other side lived Corso’s brother, his girlfriend and a renter. Coleman had to be rescued by nearby construction workers with a ladder and suffered burns. Lombardo, who rented the unit, was treated for smoke inhalation.
No one was able to reach Zielinski before flames overtook the structure, eventually causing it to collapse.
“I know that it was smoke inhalation that made her pass out, so I’m grateful,” said Corso. “I hope that she didn’t suffer.”
So far, there is no word on the source or cause of the fire which also gutted the houses on either side of Unit 29, but authorities say there do not appear to be any signs of foul play.
“There’s nothing at this point that leads us to believe it’s anything other than a terrible tragedy,” said Sea Isle City Police Chief Thomas McQuillen.
The Sea Isle Fire Department says that three buildings were destroyed — six units total in the blaze. One of the homes experienced a near total collapse.
The Cape May County Fire Marshal and the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office are assisting in the investigation.
There is no word yet on what caused the fire.