TOMS RIVER – A late-morning fire Thursday destroyed an East Rolling Hills home and took the lives of four beloved family pets trapped inside.
The home belonged to the Golembeski and Hollingsworth families, a family of dedicated township volunteers: Toms River First Aid Capt. Alyssa Golembeski; her sister and firefighter/EMT Ashley Hollingsworth, president elect of that squad and volunteer with Toms River Fire Company No. 2; their mother and EMT Christine Golembeski; and their aunt, grandmother, and 11-year-old cousin.
The fire claimed the lives of two pet birds, a pet rabbit and one family dog.
According to the Toms River First Aid Squad, the family “lost everything except for the clothes on their backs, two weeks before Christmas.”
Although the fire is still under investigation, preliminary reports say it erupted in the home’s garage. Alyssa Golembeski was trapped in the house’s basement and was rescued by the Toms River Police Department. She sustained superficial burns to her back and soles of her feet.
She provided a message of thanks through the first aid squad’s Facebook page.
“Captain Golembeski and her family would like to extend their gratitude to all the agencies that came out to extinguish the fire and treat the one person trapped in the home. Toms River Police Department, Toms River Twp. Professional EMS IAFF Local 4846, Toms River Fire Company 2, Toms River Fire Company 1, Silverton Volunteer Fire Department, Pleasant Plains Volunteer Fire Department, Island Heights Fire Company, and the Manchester Fire Department,” the message said.
A family-authorized GoFundMe page has been set up by First Lt. Keith Rodriguez of the Toms River First Aid Squad.
“While homeowner’s insurance should cover the cost of rebuilding the house, this campaign aims to offset some of the costs associated with such an event; such as providing clothing, toiletries, and other household items that were lost after such a devastating event,” Rodriguez wrote. “This campaign has been authorized by the family and any and all donations would be greatly appreciated.”
The Toms River Bureau of Fire Prevention, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office and Toms River Police Department are investigating the fire.