- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 19, 2014

HARRISON TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) - Authorities say a man was killed while trying to extinguish a fire that severely damaged his southern New Jersey home.

Gloucester County prosecutors say 63-year-old Ronald Steward was found dead on the second-floor of his Harrison Township residence early Tuesday. An autopsy determined he died from smoke and soot inhalation.

Steward’s wife and his adult son safely escaped from the home, along with the family dog.

Authorities say the fire in the two-story colonial home was reported shortly before 4:30 a.m. Steward and his wife smelled smoke and soon discovered a fire in the basement stairwell.

The house was fully involved when firefighters arrived, and the blaze was extinguished about four hours later.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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