A fast-moving fire severely damaged a home at 664 Elm St. the night of May 27, displacing a family of seven — but it could have been much worse. And, the community has banded together to help the family displaced by the fire through a GoFundMe campaign and a clothing drive.

As of presstime, $13,945 has been raised in cash donations from more than 200 people and families. Melissa Davila, of Little Falls, whose parents (and family) lost everything they had in the fire — “nothing was salavagable,” she said — started the campaign to which you can still donate at gf.me/u/qsran.

My parents and family lost everything in a devastating fire,” Davila wrote on the GoFundMe site.Thankfully everyone made it out safe. Please find it in your heart to donate — anything is appreciated.

The Observer, in conjunction with the Rotary Club of Rutherford, will be collecting clothing donations through June 16. Donations of gently-used or new clothing items can be brought to The Observer’s office, 39 Seeley Ave., Kearny, between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday and Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday.

As to the fire itself:

This was a lesson about smoke alarms,” said Kearny Fire Chief Steve Dyl.

Smoke alarms and the courage of a grandfather and his daughter.

According to Dyl, there were four of seven family members in the house at the time the grandfather, his adult daughter and her two sons, aged 8 and 2. 

Dyl said the man was doing repair work in an empty apartment on the second floor of the residence and the boys were asleep in their bedrooms when the woman heard the smoke alarms go off.

She reportedly discovered flames in the living room and alerted her father. He and his daughter each grabbed one of the children and carried them from the burning building. But “the fire had already grown,” Dyl said, noting that they suffered minor burns during their escape.

The KPD alarm came in at 10:20 p.m., and arriving firefighters were reportedly greeted by flames already engulfing the home.  The blaze went to three alarms, bringing not only all Kearny units but also crews from Harrison, Jersey City, North Arlington and Belleville to the scene, between Seeley and Stuyvesant Aves.

The North Hudson Regional Fire and Bayonne FD covered the town.

Despite its fury, the blaze was declared under control within an hour. Dyl said no neighboring residences were damaged. 

The grandfather, his daughter and the two children were transported to Clara Maass Medical Center, Belleville, for treatment of non-life threatening injuries, including the burns and smoke inhalation.

The cause of the fire was undetermined and is under investigation. Dyl said the most significant damage occurred to the first-floor apartment.

He said the Red Cross was handling the relocation of the seven family members left homeless.

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