A pre-dawn fire roared through two homes in Newark, N.J., on Sunday, killing six people, shocking a community and leaving fire officials trying to determine what caused the inferno.
Firefighters found six bodies in one two-story, single-family house, chief assistant Essex County prosecutor Thomas Fennelley said. Some of the victims may be related, but the bodies had not all been identified, he said. No bodies were found in the second home, but both homes were destroyed.
"Right now, we're investigating how the fire started," Anthony Ambrose, chief of detectives for the prosecutor's office, told nj.com. He told the website that an arson task force is investigating the fire, but that the fire was not considered suspicious.
Later Sunday, all that was left was charred frames, with piles of blackened, twisted furniture and charred belongings being tossed from what had once been windows. The white fence around one property was still intact.
A small storefront church called Tree of Life Ministries, adjacent to one of the burned homes, appeared undamaged. Neighbors gathered outside the home — many in their Sunday church clothes — shaking their heads at the loss of so many lives.
"They're very good people," said James Johnson, a neighbor who identified himself toCBS-New York as the family's pastor. He said the family was from the Caribbean island of St. Vincent but had been in Newark for several years. "They're a part of my ministry. So I'm very shaken at this moment."
"They was real sweet," neighbor Brion Cameron told CBS. "The old lady, she had a nice heart. She was a calm person. If anything ever went wrong and you needed her help, she was there."
Contributing: Associated Press