HACKETTSTOWN, NJ (Warren County) – Residents escaped two burning homes in Hackettstown Saturday afternoon – one thanks to the efforts of two passersby.
Kerry Connallon of Panther Valley told RNJ that she was travelling Grand Ave on her way to the Great Meadows School to pick up her 7 and 8-year-old from a Baseball Clinic they were attending.
“As I went under the bridge and rounded the corner I noticed some black smoke in the air. It wasn’t heavy smoke and I thought maybe someone was burning something. It seemed strange,” Connallon said.
As she drove closer to the home that was on fire, the smoke became thicker and she saw flames coming out of the back of the house.
She pulled over and stumbled with her phone trying to call 911 as she jumped out of my car–there were other cars driving by–but she knew she had to see if anyone was home. The fire had just started and there were no occupants standing outside the house and there was a car in the driveway, Connallon said.
Another car with a man and woman pulled over right in front of me, and as Connallon ran to the front door, she screamed to the woman to call 911, and she said she was already on the phone with 911.
Connallon banged on the door, window, rang the bell, and was yelling fire. The man who came up right behind me kicked the door in and ran inside.
“I ran around to the back of the house screaming fire to see if there was anyone else in the house. You could see the house to the right was already burning from the heat of the flames; the siding was melting,” Connallon said.
As she ran back to the front of the house, the occupant came running out in his shorts carrying a bird. She asked if anyone else was in the house and he said only his other bird.
The fire was escalating so quickly and it all seemed like it took forever, but I know it happened in minutes. The utilities on the outside of the house starting exploding catching fire and embers were flying through the air, Connallon said.
“I ran to the house to the left and banged on the door and a young child came to the door. I yelled at him to get out there was a fire. He disappeared into the house and then finally came around the back with another child and carrying a dog,” Connallon said.
Connallon along with this other man had made sure all the homes were evacuated. At that time, the fire was intense and the police arrived.
One officer asked if everyone was evacuated and I told him yes, that everyone was out.
I left at that point before the fire trucks arrived. The embers were everywhere and there were live utilities exploding so I knew I should get out of there, Connallon said.
“I don’t remember as I went to the front door hearing a smoke detector going off; this occupant had no idea his house was on fire. It burned so quickly,” Connallon said.
“I came home and checked all my smoke detectors and was up all night thinking about it. It was really scary. My Dad is a retired police officer. I have even more respect now for first responders. They unselfishly go into these situations all the time.” Connallon said.
The fire remains under investigation, according to police.