A Thursday morning fire, that has been deemed accidental, according to the Asbury Park Press, destroyed the home of Toms River First Aid Squad Captain Alyssa Golembeski and her family, some of who are also members of the squad. 

Captain Golembeski's sister, Ashley Hollingsworth, who is the President-elect of the squad and a volunteer firefighter at Toms River Fire Company 2, her mother Christine Golembeski, who is the treasurer, grandmother, who is an honorary member and squad Chaplain, her aunt and an eleven year old cousin also lived in the home on East Rolling Hills Court.

A neighbor reported seeing flames and smoke from the garage and alerted authorities. Golembeski was trapped in the basement and with the help of a neighbor, three Toms River workers and a Toms River Police Officer were able to coach her out of the home. She suffered minor burns.

Photo: Keith Walküre Rodriguez via GoFundMe

Tragically, the family lost all of their possessions except the clothes on their backs. Two pet birds, a pet rabbit, and one of their dogs were killed in the fire.

The Toms River Bureau of Fire Prevention, Ocean County Prosecutors Office and the Toms River Police Department investigated and determined the fire started as a result of "combustible materials" that were too close to a space heater.

They issued several reminders when using space heaters in light of the fire:

  • Use appliances that cut off automatically if tipped over,
  • Keep combustible materials at least three feet away,
  • If your model is electric, make sure the cord is not frayed. Never use an extension cord with a portable heater.
  • Use only models approved by a nationally recognized testing agency
  • Keep children and pets away from heaters
  • Remember to turn off heaters when you leave the home or go to bed

A GoFundMe has been set up for the family in the hopes of raising money to buy clothes and toiletries. The most recent update on the page says two fundraisers are in the works to continue helping the family.