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Community Helps Victims of 2 Lightning Strikes

Items continue to be collected for the victims of lightning strike fires in Bridgewater June 22.

Only two weeks after , the Bridgewater Police Benevolent Association [PBA] is giving donated items from businesses and residents to the families affected.

Bridgewater Township Police Officer, and PBA President, Robert Reilly said they had gathered a number of contributions from local businesses within a week of the fires that occurred on the evening of June 22.

"We mostly spoke with businesses at the beginning [after the fires], and of the ones we did hit, everyone gave something," he said. "It wasn't even a question about giving."

On June 22, two separate lightning strikes hit two separate homes on Donald Drive and Wilde Hollow, injuring a resident in each home, and killing two dogs in each. The causes of the fires were determined to be lightning strikes, and both homes were completely destroyed.

"In my 10 years [on the force], I have never seen this before," Reilly said. "I was a firefighter for 11 years, and to have the exact same scenario, what are the odds of that? We couldn't believe it."

In the fires, which killed four dogs, the resident inside the Donald Drive home suffered injuries from glass while breaking out through a window, while a resident inside the other home suffered severe burns, both on their arms.

The former resident, Reilly said, was released from the hospital quickly after the incident, and the donations collected by the PBA from the local businesses were already delivered to the family.

"The Donald Drive residents are staying with family," he said. "They were very appreciative of the donations, and you could tell they were touched with the charity and how quickly it was given."

"They did not have long hospital stays," he added. "We brought the items without any hoopla."

The items from the businesses, Reilly said, are mostly gift cards for meals and other food, and came from , , , , , and .

"There are no stipulations on what the families have to buy," he said. "Obviously insurance is covering a lot, but not everything, so this is kind of where the businesses wanted to step in a little."

As for the Wilde Hollow family, Reilly said, the donated items have not yet been delivered because the injured resident was only released from the hospital last week after suffering severe burns.

"[The injured resident] was going to be released about a week ago, and we haven't been able to get together," he said.

Reilly said the businesses were comfortable dealing with the PBA and giving donations, particularly because they would be helping local residents.

"This wasn't someone coming off the streets asking for money," he said. "They know us through the police department, we explain the situation. And everything we're going to do is local."

And aside from the businesses, Reilly said, the PBA is also welcoming donations from residents who want to help out through the PBA's civic organization.

"It is fully tax deductible, and we haven't been too involved with that in the past," he said. "But that is changing."

"We are still collecting, and we told the victims that items may be streaming in from time to time, which we'll send to them," he added.

For those businesses looking to get involved with the PBA's civic organization, send an email to Reilly at bridgewaterpba.president@gmail.com to set up a contact person.

Any resident looking to donate to the victims of the June 22 fires can also email Reilly, or visit the PBA website for more information.

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