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Irish family dies in New Jersey fire

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An Irishman and his family died in a house fire in Ocean County, New Jersey on Saturday, February 27.

Michael Glynn, 48, his wife Heather, 42, and their six-year-old daughter, Tara, all perished in a fire that may have been caused by an improper disposal of cigarettes, according to Ocean County authorities.

Glynn, a union dockworker, was born in Clonroad, Ennis, Co. Clare and moved to the U.S. about 15 years ago.

The Glynn family moved to their home on Pine Hill Road in 2006.

A neighbor, Theresa Meehan, who lives across the street from the Glynn home, said the family moved from Bayonne in Hudson County to Toms River in Ocean County in search of a peaceful neighborhood in which to raise their daughter.

"She was very cute, she was very outgoing and bubbly and she is definitely missed here," said Meehan, whose grandchildren played with Tara.

"They were very close, they adored their daughter," said Meehan, adding that Tara had been named after the historic Hill of Tara site in Ireland.

"They were friendly people," said Meehan.

A little after 6:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, a newspaper courier noticed smoke coming from the Glynn home. When firefighters arrived at the scene, they discovered Glynn’s body near the front door of the split-level house, Heather’s body on the floor in the second-floor bathroom and Tara’s lifeless body under a bed. All three were declared dead at the scene.

Their bodies were taken to Community Medical Center in Toms River.

Autopsies performed on the bodies on Sunday reveled that all three members of the Glynn family died of smoke inhalation. The fire was ruled an accident.

"I will confirm that the investigation revealed the fire and subsequent fatalities were accidental," said Michael Mohel, deputy chief of detectives with the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office.

Investigators continue to search through the rubble of the home but have ruled out the possibility of arson or utility issues such as a gas leak or electrical short. It is believed that a cigarette that was incorrectly put out may have been the cause of the deadly fire.

It appears the fire first began in a plastic trashcan in the first floor den of the house. Both Glynns smoked.

The Glynn home had no working smoke detectors on the second floor.

Ocean County prosecutor Marlene Lynch Ford said that “Heather Glynn and her daughter, Tara, had no early warning about the fire because the upstairs smoke detectors had been removed.”

Assistant Chief Fire Inspector James Mercready said the fire was most likely burning for up to four hours before the newspaper courier noticed the fire coming from the home and notified a neighbor who in turn called 911.

Glynn, nicknamed “Whooper” back in Ireland, was well known and loved in Clare.  For many years he played hurling with his local club, Eire Og. Glynn played in two county finals for his club in 1982 and 1983.

"I was very shocked to hear of the news," Ennis councilor and family friend Pat Daly said on Monday.

“Whooper was a great character and fine hurler too," he added.

Glynn is survived by his brothers John and Paul, and his sisters Mary, Edel and Ruth. He was the youngest of the six.

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