New Jersey Firefighting

TOMS RIVER — Nine of 18 people at a 21st birthday party were injured following a 5:20 a.m. fire that destroyed a Florham Park couple's waterfront summer house.

Authorities said 18 people, several of them from Morris County — were sleeping in the house when one awoke and discovered the fire. Six people were forced to jump onto a deck and two others jumped out of second-story window to get out of the house.

The home, at 256 Kathryn Street in the Ocean Beach section of Toms River, is owned by Joseph and Susan Kemka, 62 and 55, respectively, of Florham Park. The homeowners told police they were hosting a 21st birthday party for their daughter, Cailyn.

"Mrs. Kemka stated that the group had spent the night at the Beachcomber in Seaside Heights and were picked up there at 3 a.m. via party bus to return to the house. The party continued until about 4:30 a.m. before the last of the partygoers, Stephanie Kemka, 27, of Florham Park, reported going to sleep," the police report stated.

Stephanie Kemka then reported that she woke up after hearing the smoke alarms at 5:20 a.m.

Authorities noted that another daughter, Lindsey Kemka, woke up to flames that were behind the couch she was sleeping on in the porch, which is where it is believed the fire began.

Six people sleeping upstairs, including the homeowners, were forced to jump from the second story deck to escape, and another guest, April Buono, 22, of East Hanover, was forced....

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