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Boonton, NJ Six Perish In House Fire, Jan 1975



Boonton, N.J. (AP) -- Four children, their father and his aunt died in a fire that trapped them in the upstairs of their split-level house in this Morris County community, police said.
The children's mother was critically injured when she apparently jumped from an upstairs window to escape the fire late Tuesday night, authorities said.
Police said EDWARD MAPHET, 36; his aunt, MARY MAPHET, and his children -- EDWARD, 12; KATHLEEN, 11; PATRICIA, 9; and ELEANOR, 5 -- were overcome by smoke and heat from the blaze.
MAPHET'S body was found in a bathroom, one of the children was found in a hallway, the other three children were in their beds and the aunt's body was in a front bedroom near a window, police said. They said all were clad in pajamas.
Fire fighters found DENISE MAPHET, 32, lying in the yard in shock with broken ribs, internal injuries and bruises, police said. She was in critical condition at a hospital in Denville, a hospital spokesman said.
Police said the fire apparently started in the living room and burned only the front downstairs of the house. They said the cause was not immediately known.
A neighbor reported the fire to police just before midnight, authorities said.

Corpus Christi Times Texas 1975-01-16


My dad and Rich Mcarthy

My dad and Rich Mcarthy where the first ones their. I was 7 years old 202 Dorian RD. 3 houses down . Worst night ever


Hello John-

I apologize for the length between replies. I am just coming up on this message. If you wanted to connect, you can email me at I know my sister and I would love to talk with you.

All the best

Edward Cooke

I was eight years of age

I was eight years of age when the fire occured. My family lived on Rexland Drive. I was asleep in my bedroom which was in the front of our house I was awoken by my father he had come in and out of my room a couple of times by the time the sand left my eyes my father was standing by the window I asked him what was wrong his reply was to go back asleep i think he was trying to locate what house had the fire i think the trouble was there was reflections in other neighbors house but before i closed my eyes I remember seeing red flashing lights driving on our street. I don't remember what was said at the breakfast table the next morning but i do recall seeing the news paper reporting the tragic news. i do remember hearing that they heard the fire started with the record player left on i did read some other post's saying it was the tv. It was some type of electronic device that was the cause.

Maphet family

I juts came across this article and saw your response. I am Denny's youngest daughter. I have always been curious about my mother's first family and i would be interested in connecting.

I too lived in Boonton at

I too lived in Boonton at the time of the fire. My parents were on the Boonton Kawanis Ambulance Squad with (Denny).This was and still is the most tragic thing to ever happen in Boonton. They called this area of Boonton the flats (lower flat). The true flats were at the JCR. Dennys sister, I dont remember her name,last name is Rockis lived on the other side of Vreeland ave. I think there are 3-girls in that family. Well I have to go. One last thing, that whole family includung the Rockis's were the most caring and giving people, I know first hand. they gave to me!

TV set to blame?

When this tragic fire happened at my cousins' house, I was 15 and living in Bayonne. Ned (Edward) was a cousin of my father Charles, so the kids were my second cousins. I was a papergirl delivering the NY Daily News every morning, and I believe on Sunday morning Jan 17, the front page of the paper was devoted to the family and the fire. It had photos of all six of them, right on the front page. We were later told that it was an electrical fire caused by the color television set. It had an "auto on" feature, meaning it didn't need to warm up for the 10 or so seconds that other color TV's did. I believe they later declared "auto on" features of color TVs to be a fire hazard.


I just came across this site. My family is quite interested to possibly get to know Denny's second family. Ned's Mom was Grace Branagan and my Dad (Dick) was her youngest brother. He was close in age to Ned and although they didn't get too see each other as much as they would have liked, they did keep in touch. A tragedy, indeed, but we will never forget Ned, his children and his aunt!

A happy ending to Boontons Greatest Tragedy

Two years ago I purchased the Maphet house from the Cooke estate. Many neighbors and friends cringed when they heard I was purchasing the house. I am a firefighter in town--though this tragedy happened long before my term. After my first walk through of the house I couldn’t even consider owning it, twisting and winding stairways, fire bell in attic---all dark and looming over me. After many months we returned and my wife and I looked to what the house could be, hinging our minds on the fact that although such tragedy occurred. there was also many years of happiness in the house. We have embarked on a major restoration of the house, every place I work there are reminders of the fire, silver paint to contain smoke smells, char marks where fires existed. Many forget this house had three fires total, the 1975 tragedy, a kitchen and a fireplace fire which caused damage to the Florida room wall. Today, my family treats the stories of that fire with reverence. Some older members of the fire department may not attend my parties at the house, but I understand as that day was one of the darkest in BFD history, something few will ever get over.
Always remember the house is not a home without the people inside.

Maphet residence fire

I fought this fire as a member of the Boonton FD. The address was 32 Dorian Road. I was very young (16 I think) at the time. But I remember that there was a super human effort by the fire fighters that night to rescue people. The family was removed within minutes of the FD arrival. They were transported to the hospital in ambulances, police cars and I think one private vehicle. Sadly, none survuved. But in true Boonton fashion, the effort to save them went above and beyond.

If you go to the Boonton Holmes library, they have back issues of the Boonton TImes-Bulletin on microfilm. I know for a fact that there was extensive coverage for a couple of weeks of this tragedy. You will find all the info you are looking for in those archives. I hope you find what you are looking for.

Maphet Fire

The fire happened 35 years ago today. I remember it as if it were yesterday. Mary Kathryn (Kathleen in the article above) was a classmate of mine in Our Lady of Mt. Carmel School. We were in the 5th grade together. I remember the fire alarm going off in the middle of the night. The next morning, I went to school not knowing what happened. I got to class and my desk had been moved one closer to the front of the room. Kathryn had sat in front of me. The priests and nuns came into all the classes to tell us what had happened. My mother left work early that day to pick me up because she had heard about it on the radio. Kathryn was one of the nicest girls I had ever known (granted I was only 10 at the time). Her mother, Denise, was always a very nice person as well and had spent time at the school. The news of the fire was all over all the news broadcasts of the time. One image that stuck out in my mind was a child's sled leaning on a tree outside the Dorian Road house. I attended the wake and the funeral. Again the image of 6 coffins still sticks out in my mind. The fact that Denise was able to move on and actually lived in the house is miraculous. I always hoped that she found some happiness.

article | by Dr. Radut