A family of seven refugees who fled Afghanistan last year and started a new life in New Jersey lost everything in a devastating fire that ravaged their home on Thanksgiving Eve, and their newfound community is rallying to help. Jamie Yeung the owner of the Mount Arlington home the family was renting, started a GoFundMe the day after the Nov. 23 fire. The couple, who did not have renters insurance, has five kids under the age of 14.
The blaze destroyed both the upstairs and downstairs units in the house. Police believe the fire was started by an extension cord in the upstairs unit, Yeung said. The Afghan family lived in the downstairs unit.
Yeung said she has insurance for the house, but it didn’t cover the renters and she’s working with the company to see what can be done to help.
A 52-year-old driver died in a one-vehicle crash in Cumberland County early Wednesday morning, authorities said.
Danny Burt, of Cedarville, was driving a pickup truck west on Lummistown Road in Lawrence Township when the vehicle ran off the road, according to a New Jersey State Police spokeswoman.
The pickup struck a tree and Burt suffered fatal injuries, the spokeswoman said. The crash was reported around 12:10 a.m.
An investigation into the cause of the crash is ongoing and additional details were not available as of Thursday morning.
A dog shot and injured by Keyport police earlier this year remains held by the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals while summonses are pending against the pit bull’s owners, one of whom has organized a rally to regain custody.
Blaze has been living at the SPCA shelter in Eatontown for about a month and is nearly recovered from the gunshot wounds he suffered to his shoulder in a parking lot in Keyport Oct. 22, SPCA Chief Ross Licitra said Thursday.
The Monmouth County SPCA has had a long-standing policy that the owners can’t visit if they’re facing charge related to the dog.
“Regardless of who the owner may be, no owner is allowed to visit with their dog if (the dog) is being held by the county SPCA,” a spokesman for the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office said. “That’s a standard practice to protect the employees of the SPCA and the well-being/welfare of the dog.”
Licitra said the policy is now strictly enforced because of past incidents in which a dog attacked another animal or an employee. In one instance, a dog went “ballistic” when its owner arrived to visit and “mauled” a shelter worker, who suffered severe bites.
“It’s really stressful for the animal when it sees its owner and the owner then has to leave it,” Licitra said. “That’s why for dogs’ emotional stability, we don’t allow it. It’s heartbreaking.
“We want to get this dog home as quickly as possible. It’s bad for the dog, it’s bad for the owner, it’s bad for all of us. If the judge determines the dog should be released, the owner can take him home immediately.”
The shelter will consider requests to drop off special food or other treats for dogs being held, Licitra added.
One of Blaze’s owners — Alexyss Ferrera — is planning a rally outside borough hall in Keyport at 2 p.m. Thursday demanding the pit bull be allowed to come home.
A half-hour later she’s scheduled to be in her attorney Matthew Jordan’s Neptune office to participate in a virtual court hearing to answer a charge of possessing a dangerous dog as well as violations of borough ordinances. The charges were filed by the Monmouth County SPCA, which handles animal control in Keyport.
The summonses are “related to the dog’s aggressive behavior” and for the dog running unsupervised off of a leash, authorities said.
A 34-year-old Keyport man is facing the same charges.
An online petition to support Ferrera’s quest to get back Blaze has generated nearly 5,000 signatures and a groundswell of support on a local Facebook page.
Blaze spent about a week at an animal hospital before being moved to the SPCA’s shelter on Wall Street in Eatontown, where he has been since.
The prosecutor’s office released a Keyport police officer’s body camera footage following incident, which took place in a parking lot on Pine Street around 5:40 p.m.
Police were trying to find Blaze’s owners when the dog charged toward at least three officers. One of the officers drew his gun and shot the dog twice in the shoulder. The startled dog then scampered to a nearby garage where it was located.