NUTLEY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Flames ripped through a New Jersey home Saturday, killing a mom and her 7-year-old son.
Video taken of the raging house fire shows the desperate attempt by firefighters as they tried rescuing a family inside. Joe Caprio is the man who shot it, minutes after he himself pulled a man to safety.
“I got out of the car. I started knocking on all the doors and windows I could find on the house itself. I went to the back. I tried opening the door, it was locked,” Caprio told CBS2’s Christina Fan.
Caprio was on his way home near Park Avenue in Nutley around 12:30 p.m. when he noticed flames shooting out of the home’s roof. He says while trying to bust down the front door, he saw a hand struggling to open the handle.
“He finally got the door unlocked and when I saw him, I mean, his whole upper body was just covered with soot and just blackened,” Caprio said.
He says the man told him his grandson and daughter were still inside. As Caprio debated whether or not to run into the impassable wall of flames, firefighters pulled up. So did the youngest victim’s grandmother, who had been out grocery shopping. Caprio says he watched her completely break down.
“She seen that it was her house, and she just, you know, she just lost it. She just, she was like in a panic. She couldn’t believe it. ‘Oh my god, my daughter’s in there, my grandson’s in there,'” he said.
In the end, firefighters could not save 29-year-old Amanda Russo or her 7-year-old son.
Investigators remained at the home for hours Saturday, looking into the cause. Caprio, who already risked his life, wishes he could have done more.
“You just don’t take things for granted. You know, thank god for your family and cherish the moments that you have because in an instant, everything changed for her. In an instant,” Caprio said.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but neighbors say the flames were shooting from the second floor.
CBS2 has been told the man Caprio helped save remains in a local hospital, where he is being treated for his injuries.