A mother and her 7-year-old son died, and a 74-year-old man was injured in a Nutley house fire Saturday, authorities said.
Amanda Russo, 29, and her son were pronounced dead at Clara Mass Medical Center following the blaze on the 300 block of Park Avenue, the Essex County Prosecutor's Office said.
** UPDATE: More than $4,000 had been raised as of Sunday on a GoFundMe for the victims of Saturday's Nutley house fire **
Joe Caprio of Nutley said he was driving by when he saw flames shooting out of the roof around 12:40 p.m. He called 911, got out of his car and began banging on the doors and windows, he said.
"An older man emerged covered in soot and burns," Caprio of Nutley wrote on Facebook. "He said to me, 'My grandson (7 yrs old) and daughter are in there.'"
Caprio looked up the stairs and saw it was engulfed with flames. He didn't know what to do.
"Would a braver man have ran up the stairs?" he said. "I don’t know... I’m torn."
Seconds later, firefighters pulled up.
"I screamed at them that there were people still in there, and I saw them spring into action," Caprio said.
"I helped the man out of the house, and he was obviously in shock," Caprio said.
"He told me he was preparing breakfast when he noticed smoke from upstairs. He went upstairs and said the fire was in his grandson's room! He was unable to open the door, not sure why."
As Caprio helped the man to the ambulance, firefighters ran in with a hose.
"Moments later, the grandmother of the little boy came walking down the street, coming back from the market. Oblivious to everything, she wondered why all the firetrucks were on the street. She then realized it was her house and she just broke into tears. It was a terrible thing to witness.
"The lesson: 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."
Companies from Belleville, Bloomfield, Lyndhurst and Nutley responded, along with EMS units from North Arlington and Nutley.
This is a developing story. Check back for details.
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