TOMS RIVER – It was a tragic event that could have become even more tragic if not for the bravery of a group of responders.
A home at 73 East Rolling Hills Court had been engulfed in flames. The fire department and first aid squads responded, and so did a few employees with the Parks Department who happened to be working nearby, Mayor Thomas Kelaher said.
Officials said the first call about the fire came from a neighbor, who reported seeing flames and smoke coming from the garage. A resident was in the basement, and because of the smoke, she had trouble getting out.
Neighbor Joe Mahon along with Tim Dalton, Joe Hayward, Dave Gretkowski – three Toms River Township employees from Public Lands who were working in the area – Police Officer Andrew Gannon and Toms River Community Service Officers Elmandoh Kandil and William Miller were able to coach the woman to follow their voices to a first floor window of the house, where she was able to escape.
At a recent Township Council meeting, the governing body recognized the life saving efforts of Police Officer Andrew Gannon; township employees Tim Dalton, Joe Hayward, and Dave Gretkowski; and Community Service Officers Elmandoh Kandil and William Miller.
The home belonged to the Golembeski and Hollingsworth families, who are very involved in the local first aid squad. The resident sustained superficial burns to her back and soles of her feet, police had said. The fire claimed the lives of four pets – two birds, a rabbit and a dog.
A fundraiser for the family has already raised more than $10,000, and can be found at GoFundMe.
Kimberly Bosco contributed to this story.