Home Destroyed in Early Morning Fire - On Friday, October 18, 2013, at 2:35 a.m., while on patrol, Officer Michael Eden of the Lacey Township Police Department noticed an odor of burning plastic along Lacey Road near the northeastern portion of the Pines Section of Forked River. Upon checking the adjacent streets, Officer Eden observed flames coming from a residence on Lane Place in Forked River. As Officer Eden was approaching the home, a 911 call was transferred to Lacey Dispatch from Ocean County Dispatch. The 911 call originated from a neighbor at 233 Lane Place who had observed the home engulfed with flames. Due to Officer Eden’s alertness, he arrived on scene simultaneous to the 911 dispatch. Officer Eden identified the home as 229 Lane Place and quickly learned that as many as six residents live in the home. Prior to Officer Eden’s arrival, two adult males (28-year-old Stephen Bodzak, Jr. & 23-year-old Patrick Oliveto) had made their way out of the home through their bedroom windows and were standing in the roadway on Lane Place. The two adult males in the roadway indicated that other family members were still within the residence while the home was burning.
Since the front of the home was fully engulfed in flames, Officer Eden made his way around to the back yard by kicking and breaking through a secured gate. Upon entering the back yard, he observed three other family members standing away from the home. The three family members included the mother, father and 10-year-old daughter from the residence. The mother and father (46-year-old Diane Bodzak & 56-year-old Stephen Bodzak, Sr.) indicated that their adult, pregnant daughter was trapped within the burning residence. Officer Eden began a process of trying to make contact with 28-year-old Brittany Bodzak who was trapped within the home. Upon hearing her screaming to him that she couldn’t find a way out, Officer Eden kicked over a section of fencing then smashed a window to a bedroom with his arm. After breaking through the window and while thick smoke was billowing out of the window, he climbed halfway into the window while continuing to yell for the woman. Neither the woman nor Officer Eden could see each other due to the thick billowing smoke. Based on the yelling, 28-year-old Brittany Bodzak was able to make her way to Officer Eden’s location at which time he quickly pulled her through the window to safety. It is believed at this time that all of the members of the home escaped through windows, as the doors in the center of the home were inaccessible due to the fire and smoke.
Due to the exposure to the intense heat and thick smoke, Officer Eden along with Brittany Bodzak and Stephen Bodzak, Sr., suffered from smoke inhalation. The Lacey Township First Aid Squad transported Officer Eden as well as Brittany Bodzak and Stephen Bodzak, Sr. from the scene to Community Medical Center for treatment. Other family members responded to the hospital thereafter for treatment of minor injuries sustained while climbing out the windows during the initial stages of the incident.
Concerns regarding two family dogs being within the home have been resolved, as the German Sheppard made its way out of the residence with the family and unbeknownst to the family at the time, the Rottweiler also fled the residence and has since safely returned.
The Forked River Fire Company and the Lanoka Harbor Fire Company responded and extinguished the fire. The Ocean County Fire Marshall’s Office and the Lacey Township Police Department are conducting the investigation into the cause and origin of the fire. Officer Eden was released from the hospital at 7:00 a.m. after receiving testing and treatment for the smoke inhalation. No update is available on the condition of the residents of the home at this time.
This article was written by Chief David A. Paprota, Ed.D.