BROWNS MILLS, N.J. (WTXF) - Prosecutors say a 59-year-old man has been charged with causing a house fire that killed his elderly mother and her companion in the Browns Mills section of Pemberton Township.
According to authorities, Kurt Smith, who lived at the residence in the 500 block of Willow Boulevard, was charged with two counts of aggravated manslaughter (first-degree) and one count of arson (third- degree).
Smith was served with the charges at Temple University Hospital where he had been flown following the October 16 fire and treated for smoke inhalation. Upon being discharged, Smith will be taken into custody by Philadelphia authorities. An extradition proceeding will be held to authorize his return to New Jersey.
Authorities say the investigation revealed that Smith was in the garage of the home around 8:30 p.m. with two other people when he acted in a reckless manner and ignited flammable material with a cigarette lighter. He unsuccessfully tried to extinguish the blaze, which quickly spread once the garage door was opened, according to investigators.
The fire killed his mother, Lore Smith, 92, who was pronounced dead at Lourdes Emergency Department at Deborah Hospital in Pemberton Township. Her companion, George Pikunis, also 92, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Autopsies performed concluded the cause of death in each instance was smoke and soot inhalation, along with thermal burns.