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Altered Wiring Caused Fatal Flanders Fire, Prosecutor Says

Officials say lack of functioning smoke detectors caused occupants to be trapped.

Acting Morris County Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp said that altered wiring in the foyer caused a space heater fire at 56 Main Street in Flanders with fatal results

Hesham Moustafa, 52, and his 7-year-old stepson Cristiano Bonner perished in the blaze. Cristiano's sister, 9-year-old Bianca Bonner, and their mother, Carmella Moustafa, also were injured, Knapp said. Carmella Moustafa was released from the hospital while Bianca Bonner remains in stable condition after being revived at the scene.

Rewan Moustafa, 19, Hesham Moustafa's daughter, was present during the fire but was not injured, Knapp said.  

The Mount Olive Police Department, Mount Olive Fire Marshal, Morris County Sheriff’s Office and the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes and Arson Units concluded that the wiring used to power one of the space heaters in the apartment was improperly altered, Knapp said.

According to Knapp, this condition caused the fire in the foyer area, and a lack of operational smoke detectors in the apartment allowed the fire to extend into the kitchen, trapping the occupants in the rear of the apartment. 

The cause of the fire was determined to be accidental in nature, Knapp said.

A memorial assistance fund has been set up to help the family pay for burial and recovery expenses.

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