Burlington County firefighters battle fatal fire at senior living community

Firefighters in Burlington County are investigating the cause of a fatal fire in Burlington.

According to officials, crews were called to the J. Frank Budd Building, a senior citizen living development, on the 200 block of East Pearl Street Saturday morning, just after 11:30, for a fire alarm.

When firefighters arrived, they were met with heavy smoke emanating from the third floor.


Firefighters narrowed the fire search to one third floor apartment and subsequently extinguished the fire in minutes.

The resident of the apartment where the fire originated was found inside the apartment and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Residents in other apartments were safely evacuated while fire crews were extinguishing the fire. One resident was treated for non-life threatening injuries.

Robin Machnik lives on the first floor and was home when the fire.

"We have a lot of false alarm and there’s a lady that lives a couple doors down. We call her Mommy, because she’s very old and can’t really see. I always go for her first," Robin explained.

She said her neighbor was okay and she isn’t sure who died.

Police say they don’t suspect foul play.

Gail Hopkins lives on the same floor where the fire happened. She was out with her dog when it happened.

"When they said the third floor, I freaked out, because I’m on the third floor. The apartment it happened in is actually down the hall and around the corner from me," Gail said.

She said residents were able to go in to collect some belongings and she didn’t see fire damage, but the smoke smell was heavy and the water from the sprinkler system caused some water damage.

"A lot of people’s apartments floors are wet, not the furniture. I believe it comes from the sprinklers in the hallway that seeps beneath the doors," she added.

Officials say 25 people were displaced as a result of the fire. The Red Cross and Burlington County officials were dispatched to help those residents with shelter.

An investigation into the cause of the fire is underway.