Impaired Man Sparked New Jersey Hotel Fire With Cigarette

By WAYNE PARRY | July 8, 2014

A man who authorities say was “impaired” by opiates in his system fell asleep face down in a New Jersey motel couch while smoking in March, touching off a fire that killed four people.

The Ocean County Prosecutors Office on Wednesday released its final report into the March 21 blaze at the Mariner’s Cove Motel in Point Pleasant Beach, where the displaced included many people who had been left homeless by Superstorm Sandy a year and a half earlier.

Surveillance video from inside the motel shows John Alberti rummaging through seat cushions in a lounge. He later is shown face down in the couch with a lit cigarette. Alberti was among the four killed in the blaze.

An autopsy found the presence of opiates in his system, and Prosecutor Joseph Coronato listed the cause as “the impaired actions and careless use of smoking materials” by the 45-year-old man, who was a longtime resident of the motel two block from the beach.

The video shows him sleeping face-down in the couch with the glowing tip of the cigarette no longer visible. Smoke and flames erupted about 90 minutes later.

Authorities previously said a cigarette discarded in a chair touched off the fire, which was declared accidental.

The probe also found the motel had working smoke detectors in each room.

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