Update on Flanders Residential Fire

Acting Morris County Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp and Mount Olive Police Chief Mark Spitzer are confirming the identity of the juvenile victim who died in the fire yesterday, February 18, 2013 at Unit 56B Main Street, Flanders, New Jersey as Cristiano Bonner, age 7, the son of Carmella Moustafa and Robert Bonner. Hesham Moustafa, the husband of Carmella Moustafa, also died in yesterday’s fire. Carmella Moustafa sustained injuries in yesterday’s fire but has been released from the hospital.

A fourth victim of the fire, Bianca Bonner, age 9, the daughter of Carmella Moustafa and Robert Bonner, remains hospitalized in stable condition. Rewan Moustafa, age 19, the daughter of Hesham Moustafa, was in the residence at the time of the fire but did not sustain injuries.

The Mount Olive Police Department, Mount Olive Fire Marshal, Morris County Sheriff’s Office and the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes and Arson Units conducted an Origin and Cause investigation into the fire. That investigation revealed that space heaters were being used to warm the apartment. One of those space heaters was placed near the apartment’s side door. The wiring used to power the space heater was improperly altered. This condition caused the fire in the foyer area. A lack of operational smoke detectors in the apartment allowed the fire to extend into the kitchen trapping the occupants in the rear of the apartment. The cause of the fire was determined to be accidental in nature.

Acting Prosecutor Knapp and Chief Spitzer request all individuals make sure all smoke detectors are operating properly with fresh batteries. Smoke detector batteries should be changed twice a year at daylight savings time. Space heaters should never be left unattended and manufacturer’s use instructions must be explicitly followed. A space heater, or any electrical appliance, should never be altered by anyone other than an approved technician.

Acting Prosecutor Knapp thanks Chief Mark Spitzer and the Mount Olive Police Department, Mount Olive Fire Marshall Fred Detoro, Flanders Fire Chief Frank Zeller and the Flanders Fire Department, the Morris County Sheriff’s Office, the Morris County Office of Emergency Management, and the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes and Arson Units for services rendered at the scene.

Any inquiries can be directed to First Assistant Morris County Prosecutor/SDAG Thomas Zelante at 973-285-6252 or [email protected].