BEACHWOOD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A house fire in Ocean County injured a K-9 officer, while his owner and police partner watched, feeling helpless.
Now a community is rallying to help a family rebuild, CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported Sunday.
By the time flames shot out of the home on Ship Avenue in Beachwood, the occupants were safely outside, but two dogs, Lola and Keto didn’t make it out. The latter is a K-9 officer.
The dogs’ owner, Pine Beach Police Officer Russell Okinsky, was at work when he answered the scariest dispatch call of his life.
“They told me that my house was on fire, so I rushed over,” Okinsky said. “They had to hold me back a little bit. The fire was so strong and you couldn’t really see anything and the smoke was so strong. If I would have went in I probably would have collapsed and wouldn’t have made it.”
He said investigators told him the fire’s cause is likely electrical, starting in a bedroom where his young nephew sleeps. Also in the house were the officer’s fiancee, siblings, more nephews and his mother, Anna, who luckily was awake at 1 a.m. on Saturday and ordered everyone out.
The officer’s dogs were hard for firefighters to find. Lola was finally pulled out from under a bed. She was gravely injured and died not long after.
Keto was freed from a cage and seemed to be in bad shape, but he rallied at the animal hospital.
“He’ll make a full recovery and he’ll be able to do everything he was trained to do,” Okinsky said.
The family lost almost all of their belongings. News of the misfortune spread on social media and people showed up at the First Aid building on Beachwood Drive with food, clothes, gift cards and cash.
The house is uninhabitable and it’s a priority for the family to stay together while it’s fixed, CBS2’s Carlin reported. On Sunday afternoon they found out about a generous donation that makes that possible.
“She’s moving. She has a vacant house and she wanted us to give her address to Russ and his family, that they’re welcome to stay in her house while they rebuild,” Beachwood Volunteer Fire Department Chief Roger Hull said.
Hull said the residents of this close-knit town never fail to go the extra mile for those in need.
Family members expressed their gratitude through lots of tears.
“Even strangers who have reached out and help us, we really do appreciate it,” Okinsky said.
A fire wont keep them down or stop new generations of good Samaritans for this community, including the furry one, Officer Keto.