1st Responders, Civilians, Mayor Rescue Families During Fire

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Police officers, Good Samaritans, firefighters and a Jersey Shore mayor worked together to rescue seven people, including two children who they literally caught in their hands, during a fire at the Jersey Shore.

On Monday at 6:20 p.m. Wildwood Crest Police responded to a multi-family home on 5508 Park Boulevard in Wildwood Crest. Corporal Chris Webb, Officer Neal Cullen and firefighter Robert Murray forced their way into the home and rescued an elderly woman and her dog as well as three adults, a child and their dog.

“They did awesome,” Robert Valdes, one of the rescued residents, said. “”They really did awesome.”

Even after the rescues however, two children and their uncle were still trapped inside the burning home.

“I needed help,” Corporal Webb said.

That’s when Good Samaritans John Lynch and Zach Ruffo as well as Wildwood mayor and Holly Beach volunteer firefighter battalion chief Ernie Troiano Jr. jumped into action.

“This is something that you see in a movie,” Lynch said. “The boy was actually being hung over the railing here.”

Corporal Webb, Lynch, Ruffo and Troiano Jr. caught the two kids after their uncle dropped them from a second floor balcony. The uncle then escaped by jumping from the second floor to a garage roof and then to safety with help from Ruffo.

“I bear hugged him as he came down,” Ruffo said.

Firefighters from the Wildwood Crest Fire Company and the Wildwood City Fire and Rescue then brought the fire under control.

One of the women inside the building suffered smoke inhalation and was treated at the Cape Regional Medical Center. No other injuries were reported.
The fire was ruled accidental and rekindled overnight, causing more damage. Community members are pitching in to help the families, providing clothing for the children. An elementary school is also coordinating an island-wide fundraiser.

“Everybody needs to do their part to help out,” Ruffo said. “Doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from. You need to help out everybody around you.”

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