NJ firefighter loses home to fire, community rallies to show support

The head of the local fire union organized an online fundraiser to support their friend and worker

By Cassidy Grom
NJ Advance Media Group, Edison, N.J.

HAMILTON, N.J. — A blaze broke out at a firefighter’s house early Sunday morning, and now the community is rallying to support him and his family.

All eight fire companies in Hamilton arrived on the scene at Woolsey Street around 2:30 a.m. But it wasn’t until they saw their friend and coworker on the side of the road that they realized they were saving his home.

Two ladder trucks and six engines arrived on the scene to see the home of their fellow firefighter was on fire.
Two ladder trucks and six engines arrived on the scene to see the home of their fellow firefighter was on fire. (Photo/Hamilton Township Professional Firefighters)

Matt Sanders, a firefighter with the District 8, his father, Rich Sanders, Matt Sander’s girlfriend, and a pet dog, were all able to escape unharmed Sunday morning, according to firefighter Dave Krueger.

The fire started in the back right-hand corner of the ranch-style house, near the kitchen and porch area. Matt Sanders awoke from the sound of the fire alarm and hollered at his father to wake him up. The three residents got out through a window near the front of the house.

Officials haven’t finished investigating the source of the fire, but they expect that it was accidental; there was a fire in an outdoor pit going earlier in the day, according to Fire Official Scott McCormick.

Two ladder trucks and six engines arrived on the scene and the fire was contained within 30 minutes, Krueger said.

“We all knew (Matt Sanders) lived on that street, but at 2:30 in the morning, you don’t put two and two together,” Krueger said. “We didn’t (realize) that it was his house until we saw him standing on the side of the road with no shoes and no shirt.”

Krueger, who is also the leader of the local fire union, organized an online fundraiser to support Matt Sanders and his family. The effort had raised more than $9,000 as of about 7 p.m. Sunday.

Matt Sanders worked as a paramedic with the JFK Medical Center EMS service in Middlesex County before joining the career fire district about a year ago. Rich Sanders is a supervisor with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital’s EMS service.

Krueger didn’t know how extensively the house was damaged but estimated that part of the house might need to be rebuilt, and other parts cleaned for smoke damage. He said the fundraiser aimed to help them to replace belongings that were lost to the fire.

Both are very giving individuals who are dedicated to serving their community, Kruger said of Matt Sanders and his father. Now, it’s up to the community to give back, he added.

NJ Advance Media reached out to Matt Sanders for comment but didn’t immediately hear back. Officials did not know the name of Matt Sanders’s girlfriend.


Last night tragedy struck one of our own. Matt Sanders and his father Rich were sleeping when the sound of a smoke...

Posted by Hamilton Township Professional Firefighters on Sunday, August 4, 2019



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