SOUTH BRUNSWICK, New Jersey (WABC) -- A New Jersey community is rallying around 20 residents, including nine children, who were displaced by a fire that tore through an apartment building Monday morning.
The flames broke out just after 8 a.m. at Building 1 the South Ridge Apartments on Northumberland Way in South Brunswick, and dramatic video showed a father dropping his 3-year-old son out a window to first responders below.
South Brunswick Fire Marshal John Funcheon determined the blaze was not suspicious, and he gave credit to the building's fire doors for protecting the father and toddler until they could get out.
"It was nearly 15 minutes from the first 911 call to when the dad and toddler escaped the through the window," Funcheon said. "It was the closed bedroom door that kept the fire from entering the bedroom."
Residents had to escape as fast as possible and left everything behind, and now, South Brunswick Mayor Charlie Carley is directing a coordinated relief effort in conjunction with the South Brunswick School District to help the families.
"I am so thankful everyone made it out of the apartment building, but many lost everything," Carley said. "I have directed our Social Service Department to take the lead in our relief efforts. They will be providing immediate financial assistance, gift cards, and food. Our community consistently rallies to help those in need, and we will do it again with our fire victims."
The Red Cross has also been assisting the victims, but officials say more help is needed.
"The families are mostly in need of gift cards," Director of Social Service Jeanne Wert said. "Walmart, Target, Amazon, Stop & Shop, ShopRite. They lost everything. Some of the school aged children went to class and returned to nothing."
Social Services has set up two locations for gift cards to be dropped off:
--The South Brunswick Municipal Building (Social Services office), 540 Ridge Road, Monmouth Junction NJ 08852
--The South Brunswick Community Center, 124 New Road, Monmouth Junction NJ 08852.
The South Brunswick School District is accepting donations at all schools.
Anyone looking to donate can also mail cards to:
South Brunswick Social Services
PO Box 190
Monmouth Junction, NJ 08852
Donations will be collected through March 18, and anyone with questions is asked to contact Social Services at email@example.com.
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