"I have lost the love of my life - my beautiful wife, Jackie - and my sweet, loving, spunky little girl, Madelyn," the grieving husband said.
Early in the morning hours of January 13, flames tore through a house on Brookside Avenue. William Montanaro lost something indispensable in the fire. He shared in an interview with ABC7 that his wife Jackie Montanaro, 40, bravely ran back into the house to try to save their youngest daughter Madelyn, 6. Elena, their 8-year-old daughter, and William were able to get away. "I am heartbroken. I have lost the love of my life - my beautiful wife, Jackie - and my sweet, loving, spunky little girl, Madelyn," the grieving husband said in a statement.
According to Montanaro, his wife was a dedicated Customs and Border Protection agent, but more importantly: a hero. He claimed that when he hurried back into the house to get Madelyn, he was engulfed in a cloud of hot, dense black smoke. Jackie charged in without hesitation "with a mother's love and the courage of a police officer fueling her attempt to save our daughter," he writes, per PEOPLE.
Duchess, a Goldendoodle who was adored by the family, perished in the fire as well. The family expressed appreciation to everyone who shared posts and actively looked for her. "We are extremely devastated Duchess is no longer with us, but we must remember she is now at rest alongside Jackie and Madelyn," the family said in a statement.
The incident left preschool workers in tears on Monday at Miles of Smiles Daycare. "We're just so upset about it. There's no words. Like why, why is this happening?" said Jacqueline Frescki, a preschool teacher to CBS News. Another teacher, Sandy Hagberg, agreed as she mourned the mom and the child, "When you think of the perfect person, she was it. She was always just kind and kind to everyone, and she was instilling that in her daughters, to spread love and kindness."
Peter Terranova, the deputy mayor of Hazlet, claims that the community is like a family and that they have been "overwhelmed by the support." The cause of a house fire in New Jersey that claimed the lives of the mom and her young daughter is being investigated by fire officials. According to the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office, the fire doesn't seem suspicious.
Donations are being accepted by Monmouth County and neighborhood organizations to aid the victims' families who were forced to flee the fire. A GoFundMe has received more than $303,000 in donations so far to support the family. "Jackie’s ability to get any job done at work was only second to her love and devotion to her family at home," the GoFundMe shared of the spirited mother.
The mom is described as a person who made everyone better, "She held everyone to an extremely high standard and worked tirelessly to make everyone around her a better officer, a better person, or simply a better family member." The fundraiser further explained the purpose of the funds, asking people to contribute as well as keep the family in their prayers. "Please help us help Will and their daughter Elena during this unimaginably tragic time. All proceeds from this fundraising effort will go directly to Will and Elena," the campaign reads.
Cover Image Source: GoFundMe