Westfield house fire claims life of 19-year-old student

Photo by Brian Trusdell
A large green tarp drapes the house on Prospect Street in Westfield where an early morning blaze on Monday,
Aug. 28, required more than 50 firefighters to extinguish. Two of the home’s occupants escapted but one, a 19-year-old college student, was killed.

WESTFIELD, NJ — An early morning house fire Monday, Aug. 28, on Prospect Street in Westfield killed one of the occupants and left the other two homeless, according to Westfield fire Chief David Kelly.

Jake Tooley, 19, was found dead inside the residence after his 24-year-old brother Sam and mother escaped unharmed.
“The first arriving units encountered heavy fire on the first floor,” Kelly said.
The fire spread to a second and third alarm with Union County fire units.

Eventually more than 50 firefighters responded to the blaze.
It took more than two hours to bring the fire under control, Kelly said.
The initial alarm was sounded at 2:46 a.m.

“An investigation determined the fire was accidental in nature, starting on the first floor, in the former living room,” Kelly said.
“The ignition source was undetermined. It was a total and complete loss. There was extensive fire damage to the first and second floor.
“It burned through the roof. There was extensive heat and water damage.”

Jake Tooley was set to enter his sophomore year as a business major at Monmouth University.
“We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and loved ones during this incredibly difficult time,” a post on the university’s Facebook page read.

“Jake will forever be a part of our Hawk family.”