Mayor Cory Booker is pleading for residents in Newark and beyond to rally around two families devastated by the deadly Brookdale Avenue fire that killed five, including three children, last Friday.
Booker, who visited surviving members of each family Sunday, vowed to support them through the gut-wrenching aftermath of the three-alarm blaze.
"Not only are they dealing with the loss of their children, they're worrying about how to get a change of clothing, a roof over their heads," he said, speaking publicly about the fire for the first time Monday at an unrelated event. "We want to try to take as many burdens off of them as possible."
Among the dead are 2- and 3-year-old Javena and Javens Joseph, who lived in a rear apartment, as well as Nazir Blackstone, 17, Angela Williams, 5, and Shelton Freeman, 44, all of whom were found in the front apartment.
The Joseph parents, who Booker said are from Irvington, are staying with family members. The mother of Blackstone and Angela was delivering a baby at the time of the inferno and is expected to soon be released from the hospital, Booker said. He did not identify the three parents who lost their children in the blaze.
All five bodies were on the third floor of 33 Brookdale Ave. which was completely destroyed in the early-morning fire. The adjacent 31 Brookdale Ave., a vacant home where the fire is believed to have started, was demolished late Friday.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, authorities said Monday.
Monetary and non-monetary donations for victims of the Brookdale blaze are being accepted through the Newark Firemen's Charity Fund. In hopes of boosting the amount of money raised, Booker has appealed to his more than one million Facebook and Twitter followers to contribute and said that he'd also be making a personal donation.
Fire officials did not disclose Monday how much has been raised so far.
"There are tremendous expenses right now that they have to meet as well as dealing with grief," he said, "and we're hoping those in Newark and beyond Newark frankly can show them love."
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