Fifth person dies from New Jersey furniture store fire

The mother of two young girls killed last week in a fire at a furniture store in Elizabeth, New Jersey, has also died from injuries she sustained in the blaze, a city spokesperson said Tuesday.

Merlyn Vasquez, 36, died at a hospital on Thursday, days after a fire broke out in a two-story commercial building in Elizabeth, located in the northern part of the state. Her daughters Daniela Marquez, 8, and Paola Marquez, 10, were killed in the blaze on Oct. 5.

Image: Daniella Marquez, Paola Marquez and Merlyn Vasquez (via NBC NY)
Image: Daniella Marquez, Paola Marquez and Merlyn Vasquez (via NBC NY)

A third child, Elizabeth Correas, 11, and a 41-year-old woman, Candida Martinez-Del Reyes, were also killed.

Nj.com said Correas was a friend of the two sisters. It’s not believed that Reyes had any connection to the other victims, said Kelly Martins, public information officer for the city of Elizabeth. The victims had been shopping for furniture at the time of the fire.

A call came in around 6 p.m. for a report of a fire. Local police arrived first as the five-alarm blaze quickly engulfed the building.

The victims first tried to escape through a rear staircase, but the smoke was too heavy. They then tried to exit through what appeared to have been an old emergency exit that was blocked by a metal gate, Martins previously told NBC News.

“It’s an old building, so it looks like it might have been a fire escape,” she said. “When they opened the door, there’s a metal gate that they couldn’t get through.”

Martins said that police tried to get the group out by breaking through the gate, but their attempts were unsuccessful.

“When the fire department came, they were able to get through the gate and they pulled two victims from the fire, one adult and one child, and one child was taken out of the front,” she said.

Based on a preliminary investigation, the fire is believed to have been sparked by a faulty soda dispenser on the ground floor of Dollar & Party Less & More and spread upstairs to where the furniture store was located.

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