Union City comes together after fire leaves 1 child dead, churches destroyed

ByCandace McCowan WABC logo
Sunday, March 5, 2017
Union City comes together following tragic fire
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Candace McCowan has more from Union City.

UNION CITY, New Jersey (WABC) -- On Saturday night, a community in Union City tried to wrap their heads around what happened overnight, and many gathered in their search for peace.


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March 4, 2017: The six-alarm fire ripped through homes and a church in Union City, NJ starting around 1 a.m. Saturday.

A fire broke out around 1 a.m. Saturday morning, and spread quickly to two adjoining buildings. The embers were carried by the winds to the church. A 2-year-old boy was killed, and his father was seriously hurt.

"It's been devastating for the community, between the loss of the baby, the loss of the church," said Mayor Ryan Stack.

Members of the Saint Joseph and Saint Michael Parish gathered at a school to search for comfort after the loss of their parish.

"The steeple behind me was just fully engulfed with flames, and then you could feel the heat actually from here for a moment, then the wind shifted, and it just engulfed the building," said David Kaminsky.

The fire left dozens of people homeless, but one family is mourning the boy they will never get back - two-year-old Eddie Junior Gonzalez. He was trapped inside during the fire. His father ran back inside the building to get the boy, but it was too late. His father is currently in the hospital with burns.

Eddie's family is remembering him as 'an intelligent boy who loved his sisters.'

The church, even with a building damaged when their steeple fell down, is now hoping to be there when they are need the most.

"We knew that the church is really the community of people. It's really not the place," says Mary McErlaine of Mother Seetin School.