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Buena Fire a Possible Suicide

Fire-Rescue NewsFrom the Atlantic City Press Published: Sunday, March 23, 2008

By ROB SPAHR Staff Writer, 609-978-2012

BUENA VISTA TOWNSHIP - Authorities are investigating a fire that killed a township man Saturday afternoon as a possible suicide.
At about 2 p.m. Saturday, State Police responded to 730 Jackson Road in the Newtonville section of the township after they received a call from the mother-in-law of a man who lived at that residence, State Police Sgt. Stephen Jones said.

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According to Jones, the woman received a "strange" call from her son-in-law that made her believe that he was possibly suicidal and in danger.

Inside the home, authorities found the body of a man they tentatively identified as Joaquin Torres, 60, who lived in the home with his wife and 16-year-old son.

When police arrived, smoke was pouring out of the small, ranch-style home, Jones said.

Police immediately called the fire department and attempted to enter the building, but Jones said the doors to the home appeared to be barricaded.
"The house became fully involved very quickly," Jones said. "The inside of the house was completely gutted."

State Police confirmed that Torres' wife and son were staying in a hotel at the time of the fire. Jones could not confirm whether domestic problems were a factor in the fire.

The State Police's arson unit was still investigating the cause of the fire as of Saturday night, but Jones said authorities were treating it as suspicious.

"And State Police from the Buena Vista barracks are looking into this as a possible suicide, based on a number of things," Jones said.

Torres' body was taken to Shore Memorial Hospital in Somers Point, where an autopsy will be performed Monday, Jones said.

Herb Sykes Sr., assistant chief of the Newtonville Volunteer Fire Company, said seven fire companies and four first aid units responded to the fire, which he said was brought under control quickly.

Brian Murray, the Buena Vista Township Fire Marshal, said it is common for that many fire companies to respond to calls in this section of the township, because there are no hydrants in the area to draw water from.

This is the second major event to shock typically peaceful Newtonville within the past year.

Three men were charged with murder after they allegedly stabbed a Buena Borough man to death on March 23, 2007, near Jackson Road and Ninth Street
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