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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Fund Started for Hardwick Family Displaced by Fire

Family friend Nichole Meuse comforts one of the dogs rescued from the fire. Photo courtesy of Hardwick Emergency Management.

A GoFundMe page has been set up for a Hardwick family whose Stillwater Road house was struck by lightning and sustained major damage. 

Irene and Greg O’Connor, along with their three dogs, escaped from the fast-moving fire April 14 without serious injuries. One dog, Remington, was missing for about an hour after the blaze but was found by firefighters and given oxygen through a mask designed to fit dogs. 

Township Committee member Nichole Meuse, who also serves as Hardwick’s emergency management coordinator, was on the scene and helped treat the O’Connors’ dogs. She said Remington suffered smoke inhalation and was taken to a veterinarian for treatment and was released a few days later. 

Meuse said the O’Connors told her that they were sitting on their couch when they heard a loud bang outside that coincided with a flash of lightning. They called 9-1-1 and evacuated the house with the dogs. Though Remington went missing during the commotion that followed, he was later found. 

Other animals on the property, including a goat, were moved to safety. A pet turtle was also rescued from the house.

The garage was believed to be a total loss as was the second floor of the house. The first floor of the house sustained severe water and smoke damage. Meuse said the O’Connors were relocated to a hotel while temporary housing is being arranged by insurance carriers. She said they lost everything but were grateful their dogs and other animals were saved.

Anyone wishing to help the O’Conners can visit the GoFundMe page.

Joe Phalon
Joe Phalon, Contributing Writer
Contributing Writer

Joe was lured out of retirement by the opportunity to be a part of the Ridge View Echo. During a decades-long career in publishing and journalism, he has covered government on many levels from local school boards to the United States Supreme Court.

Along the way, Joe has worked at American Lawyer Magazine, The National Law Journal and The Record among other publications, and as the Press Officer of Columbia Law School. His work has been recognized with several first place awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the New Jersey Press Association.

Being part of the Ridge View Echo brings Joe back to his roots and the kind of news coverage he loves: Telling the stories of people and local communities as well as keeping an eye on how their money is spent by their government officials.

Joe lives in Blairstown with his wife Rose, the founder of Quilting for a Cause, and their two wiener dogs. He is an artist in his spare time.