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Former Marine Dies in Union Beach, N.J. Blaze Following Explosion In Backyard

An explosion in the backyard was heard, and a shed went up in flames.

Police tape at 509 Stone Road, in Union Beach on July 13, following a fatal fire the night before.
Police tape at 509 Stone Road, in Union Beach on July 13, following a fatal fire the night before.
A father is mourning the death of his grown son Sunday morning, following an explosion in the backyard shed of their Union Beach home in the middle of the night. 

Christopher Curtis Sr. said his son, Paul Curtis, a 52-year old former Marine, died in the incident, which is currently under investigation by the Monmouth County Fire Marshal. The family lives at 509 Stone Road, just two doors away from Borough Hall. 

Christopher Curtis Sr. said he was asleep on the recliner in his house when he was awakened by a loud noise in the night.

"I heard that thump. So I got up out of the thing and when I looked behind me -- I had the shades down -- and they were orange," he said. He knew his son liked to sit on the back deck at night, and he immediately feared the deck was on fire, he said. 

"I pulled the door open, and it wasn't the deck, it was the shed over there. And I didn't see him, so I hollered, 'Paul, Paul, where are ya, Paul!' And then I looked and he was -- flames all over, and could see him laying in front of the deck, in front of the shed, on the ground. He wasn't on fire. I think the explosion hit him and singed him," said Curtis.

Curtis said the family kept chainsaws, a push mower, and some fuel in gas cans in the shed. But he does not know what happened to cause the fire. 

The Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office said that the initial call came in for aid at 11:50 p.m. An autopsy is scheduled for Sunday. 

Curtis said his son had been going through some hard times since his service. But he would be remembered as a good man. 

"He was a great guy. He would do anything for you," said Curtis of his son, Paul. 

William July 13, 2014 at 11:41 AM
Another Lose hits Union Beach, Again Prayers are needed, As many areas are still under restoration and Rebuilding Many lives are still in Disarray, Support the People that are helping many still from out of State helping with rebuilding The Salvation Army has been there from Day One getting Lives and Homes back to a sense of order and are Still There Today with a Extended Disaster Center Located in Airport Plaza Hazlet RT 36 God Bless Paul And His Family.
George Murphy July 15, 2014 at 11:49 AM
This is another (from many) example of how our government has pushed aside the great people of our nation to focus more on "apparent" great people of our nation. Union Beach is a struggling area and has had many, many difficulties since even before Sandy. There isn't enough room here to say what needs to be said (not that it hasn't already been said) about the way our leaders have turned their backs on poor veterans like this. They must always be our first, and foremost interest and until we change leadership at the very top, this will never happen.

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