ROXBURY, NJ — A Ledgewood woman, whose home was destroyed Saturday by a fire, said today she is overwhelmed by the amount of support she’s receiving from friends and neighbors.

She's also deeply thankful for the bravery of a Roxbury policeman who entered the burning house to save the family dog.

The woman, Chris Annunziata, of 4 Rutgers Place, was in Wildwood with two of her three children when the fire began at about 8:10 p.m. The fire began right after power was restored to the neighborhood, which lost electricity during the Aug. 4 tropical storm, said Annunziata and some neighbors.

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The only member of the family in the house at the time was a female beagle named Charlie. Annunziata and her neighbors are crediting a Roxbury police officer for rescuing the pet.

“My neighbors told the policeman that I have a dog,” Annunziata said. “The officer found Charlie. She had passed. She didn’t have a heartbeat.”

Crawled Under the Smoke

Roxbury Police Spokeswoman Jennifer Dillard said it was Roxbury Police Patrolman Steve Strowbridge who rescued Charlie. 

"When officers arrived on scene, they met a neighbor who had opened the door but was unable to gain access to the house due to the fire and heavy smoke condition," Dillard said.

She said Strowbridge "approached the front door of the residence and could see a dog laying in the living room. He crawled under the smoke into the living room and grabbed the dog and brought him out the front door where he began CPR on the dog. The dog was immediately transported to a nearby animal hospital."

Annunziata, 51, is a divorcee who lives in the house with her 21-year-old son, Peter Bomersbach, her 16-year-old son Nicholas Bomersbach and her 13-year-old daughter Mia Bomersbach. The family is now staying at Homestead Suites in Rockaway.

An online GoFundMe page on behalf of the family was started Sunday afternoon by Kellie Savona. In about an hour, the page had raised nearly $1,000 of its $10,000 goal. The page can be found here.

Overwhelmed by Kindness

Annunziata sobbed as she spoke about the support she is receiving from the Roxbury community. “People have been so fantastic,” she said. “I don’t even know how to say thank you loud enough … My head is in my hands in disbelief.”

She decided on Friday to go to Wildwood, with Peter and Mia, after it became apparent the electricity wasn’t coming on anytime soon.

“We hadn’t had power since Tuesday,” Annunziata said. “Friday morning I woke up and said, ‘You know what? I’ve had enough of this nonsense. We’re all getting on each other’s nerves. The beach is great.’ And away we went.”

Nicholas, whose father lives nearby, stayed back to take care of Charlie. He wasn’t at home when the fire started, said Annunziata.

Annunziata said she planned to stay in Wildwood for three days, so she and her other two children at least have some clothes. But Nicholas was left “with only the shirt on his back,” said his mother.

“The whole house is destroyed,” she said.

Key Darrow, a former police officer who lives across the street, said he was impressed with the skill displayed by Roxbury police and volunteer firefighters at the scene. "They looked like professionals," he said. "The firefighters at that scene worked well together and did a terrific job."

The incident brought mutual aid from Netcong, Flanders and Budd Lake firefighters, according to Roxbury Company 1 Fire and EMS. "This was Roxbury's third structure fire in less than ten days," said the department on Instagram. "Thankfully the homeowners we’re not home at the time and no firefighters were injured."

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