3 dead, 8 injured in New Jersey shore motel fire

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Firefighters investigate an early morning fire at the Mariner’s Cove Hotel in Point Pleasant Beach, N.J. on Friday, March 21, 2014. An early morning fire killed three people at the Jersey shore motel whose residents included Superstorm Sandy victims who were staying there because their homes remain uninhabitable nearly a year and a half after the storm, officials said. Three other people were critically injured in the blaze. Authorities said several other people may be unaccounted for. Investigators are interviewing motel management to determine how many people were staying there when the fire broke out. The motel’s office was destroyed and most records were lost, he said. (AP Photo/David Gard)

Firefighters investigate an early morning fire at the Mariner’s Cove Hotel in Point Pleasant Beach, N.J. on Friday, March 21, 2014. An early morning fire killed three people at the Jersey shore motel whose residents included Superstorm Sandy victims who were staying there because their homes remain uninhabitable nearly a year and a half after the storm, officials said. Three other people were critically injured in the blaze. Authorities said several other people may be unaccounted for. Investigators are interviewing motel management to determine how many people were staying there when the fire broke out. The motel’s office was destroyed and most records were lost, he said. (AP Photo/David Gard)

Firefighters investigate an early morning fire at the Mariner’s Cove Hotel in Point Pleasant Beach, N.J. on Friday, March 21, 2014. An early morning fire killed three people at the Jersey shore motel whose residents included Superstorm Sandy victims who were staying there because their homes remain uninhabitable nearly a year and a half after the storm, officials said. Three other people were critically injured in the blaze. Authorities said several other people may be unaccounted for. Investigators are interviewing motel management to determine how many people were staying there when the fire broke out. The motel’s office was destroyed and most records were lost, he said. (AP Photo/David Gard)

Firefighters investigate an early morning fire at the Mariner’s Cove Hotel in Point Pleasant Beach, N.J. on Friday, March 21, 2014. An early morning fire killed three people at the Jersey shore motel whose residents included Superstorm Sandy victims who were staying there because their homes remain uninhabitable nearly a year and a half after the storm, officials said. Three other people were critically injured in the blaze. Authorities said several other people may be unaccounted for. Investigators are interviewing motel management to determine how many people were staying there when the fire broke out. The motel’s office was destroyed and most records were lost, he said. (AP Photo/David Gard)

Firefighters investigate an early morning fire at the Mariner’s Cove Hotel in Point Pleasant Beach, N.J. on Friday, March 21, 2014. An early morning fire killed three people at the Jersey shore motel whose residents included Superstorm Sandy victims who were staying there because their homes remain uninhabitable nearly a year and a half after the storm, officials said. Three other people were critically injured in the blaze. Authorities said several other people may be unaccounted for. Investigators are interviewing motel management to determine how many people were staying there when the fire broke out. The motel’s office was destroyed and most records were lost, he said. (AP Photo/David Gard)

Firefighters investigate an early morning fire at the Mariner’s Cove Hotel in Point Pleasant Beach, N.J. on Friday, March 21, 2014. An early morning fire killed three people at the Jersey shore motel whose residents included Superstorm Sandy victims who were staying there because their homes remain uninhabitable nearly a year and a half after the storm, officials said. Three other people were critically injured in the blaze. Authorities said several other people may be unaccounted for. Investigators are interviewing motel management to determine how many people were staying there when the fire broke out. The motel’s office was destroyed and most records were lost, he said. (AP Photo/David Gard)

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POINT PLEASANT BEACH, N.J. (AP) — A fire early Friday destroyed a Jersey shore motel that was housing people displaced by Superstorm Sandy, killing three people, injuring eight others and leaving 10 unaccounted for, authorities said.

Officials weren’t ruling out the possibility that the 10 had escaped before the fire engulfed the Mariner’s Cove Motor Inn in this popular summer resort town at around 5:30 a.m. The wooden building was overwhelmed by flames by the time firefighters arrived, and at least one person leaped from a second-floor window to escape. Three people were injured critically.

Investigators interviewed motel management, and determined about 40 people were staying there when the fire broke out, Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato said. The motel’s office was destroyed and many records were lost, he said, making an accurate accounting difficult.

Coronato said authorities hope the missing hotel occupants had simply gone elsewhere to stay with relatives, or to another motel, and asked them to check in with police.

“We are trying to make sure they are safe and unharmed,” he said.

On Friday afternoon, firefighters climbed ladders to reach charred second-floor units and search through them. An aerial ladder was also used to maneuver a firefighter into position to peer into burned rooms.

Survivors described a chaotic scene of flames, smoke and screaming.

Peter Kuch said he smelled smoke and opened his door to find a lounge area engulfed in flames. He dialed 911 to seek help, and by the time the call was completed, the flames were at his door and licking at the windows of his second-floor unit.

He decided to jump.

“I had to, there was no other way out,” he said. “My window was only open an inch and flames were already starting to come through it. There just was no other choice.”

He suffered a sprained ankle but said he was otherwise all right.

Joe Frystock was one of the Sandy victims who was staying

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