PARAMUS, NJ - An effort to raise funds as a way to thank Paramus firefighters for running into a burning house to save a family's dog and then extinguishing the fire is underway.

A GoFundMe campaign  has been organized on behalf of the Kazmierczak family, whose home was destroyed in a March 22 fire, to benefit the local volunteer fire department.

As of Wednesday afternoon, more than $5,000 has been raised. 

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No one was hurt, but Matthew Kazmierczak said he and his family lost everything in the March 22 blaze, which officials said was sparked by a scented candle burner.

Firefighters attempted to save the house and even tried to rescue the family’s American Bulldog, Ruxpin, whom neighbors thought might be inside at the time. Fortunately, the four-year-old dog was out with Matthew’s wife, Theresa, when the fire occurred.

Matthew said he, Theresa and their two sons, Sean, 9, and Matty, 11, are temporarily living in a new apartment building on Midland Avenue while they rebuild their home. 

The family is looking to return home “as quickly as possible,” he said.

“We live in a close-knit neighborhood that feels like a throwback to the 50s before ‘playdates’ were organized and pre-planned. We’ll never leave our neighborhood,” Matthew said.

During and after the fire, Matthew said they’ve been overwhelmed by the supportiveness of the community.

“It’s overwhelming and truly appreciated, but not surprising. Paramus is a big town with the heart of a small town,” said Matthew, who served as a councilman in Oakland before getting married to Theresa and moving to the borough.

When Theresa’s coworkers at Contemporary Design Jewelry found out what happened to the family, they reached out to find out how to help. Theresa, in response, told them they were doing fine, thanks to the support of the community.

In lieu of donations to her family, Theresa suggested people give to a fund that will be used will be used to help the all-volunteer Paramus Fire Department as a way to express gratitude for what they did the night of the fire.

In a note publicly posted on social media, she recounted the incident and expressed her gratitude for the first responders, local municipal officials and her neighbors. 

“I’ll never have the words to adequately express my love and appreciation for the Paramus Fire Department, Kevin Sheehan, Mayor Rich LaBarbiera, our neighbors in South Fork, and all the first responders who answered the call on Friday March 22 when our home was on fire,” she wrote.

“When I think of our volunteer firefighters running into our burning home with the objective of saving our beloved dog Ruxpin, I am overwhelmed with love, respect and admiration at their love, bravery and selflessness,” she also said.

“I know years from now when we look back on what was and I hope will always be the worst day of my life, I will remember the selflessness of our firefighters and our neighbors running towards and breaking into our burning home to save Ruxpin,” she wrote.