NUTLEY, NJ - As the community continues to mourn the loss of our neighbors Amanda Russo and her son, the spirit of community that is the hallmark of Nutley, rose like a phoenix from the ashes. The two were victims of a house fire on Jan 18, 2020.
The stories about neighbors helping neighbors started even before most people know there was a fire in town.
Joe Caprio, whose first-hand account of the events of the morning were noticed by major news outlets, was driving on Park Ave. when he saw the fire. After calling emergency services, he sprang into action. Caprio immediately started hitting the doors and windows with his bare hands to get the attention of anyone inside. An older gentleman exited the home with signs of burns and sot marks on his body. He told Caprio that his 7-year-old grandson and daughter were upstairs.
Caprio reports that "I looked up the stairs and saw it engulfed with flames. There was nothing I could do. Would a braver man have run up the stairs, I don’t know... I’m torn." The fire department arrived at that time and acted immediately.
"Anything can happen in our lives at any time. Do not take what you have for granted. You never know when one moment will occur that will change your life forever." Caprio said. Obviously a man who doesn't sit back and wait for others to act, Caprio took action after he learned more about what happened to the family and set up a GoFundMePage to help the surviving members of the family start over.
As news of the passing of two neighbors made its way through the community, John Monaco, known locally as the chair of the Nutley Rotary Car Show, announced that his florist shop, Personal Touch on Franklin Ave., "will donate the flowers for the parents and the casket flowers for the services. I hope that this can bring some type of comfort to the family."
Nutley Family Service Bureau, always there to help at dark times, issued a format statement in response to the fire:
Nutley Family Service Bureau will provide all service within our scope of operations to assist the family and community following the tragic township house fire that occurred on Saturday afternoon. Short and long term support will be made available to the family in their time of loss, including clothes, home and personal necessities from The Shop; food and staples from The Pantry, as well as ShopRite gift cards for fresh produces and protein; and grief and bereavement counseling from The Center. Joe Armentano, MSW, LCSW, Director of Clinical Services and Programming will coordinate possible counseling for students who may need help coping with the traumatic loss of a classmate and faculty dealing with the loss of a student.
As news continues to unfold about the fire, and efforts to help those affected by it, TAPinto will share the information as it is made known.