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Child dead, man seriously injured after Union City fire destroys home, damages church

Posted at 8:53 AM, Mar 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-04 18:09:32-05

UNION CITY, N.J. — A child died and a man was seriously injured after a fire tore through a Union City home and a church Friday night.

The blaze began around 1 a.m. at two 3-story frame houses on Summit Avenue, firefighters said. Neighbors told PIX11 News the fire was "out of control" by the time they arrived.

The family in the apartment where the fire began evacuated the area, but the child, identified as 2-year-old Eddie Gonzales Jr., was still trapped inside.

"They were trying to get the kid out, [the mother] was asking for help but they couldn’t but it was too intense," Daniel Peek, a witness, said.

Gonzales' father tried to rescue his son.

"When he hit the window the flames came out and his back was on fire," Peek said.

The family later found out Gonzales had died after his grandmother wrote on Facebook thinking the toddler was missing.

The winds moving 30 mph swept the flames and embers down the street to a the Sts. Joseph and Michael parish between Central Avenue and 14th Street. The steeple of the Catholic church, which has been in Union City for 150 years, ignited into flames and eventually collapsed.

Firefighters brought the fire under control Saturday morning but remained on the scene. Icicles formed on nearby cars and power lines created a dangerous situation for residents in the area.

Families have been displaced from the homes and officials said there will be a chance to help them:

Red Cross New Jersey provided emergency assistance to the families Saturday morning.

The Gonzales family set up a GoFundMe page for their son's funeral. The page has raised $10,000 within five hours it was set up on Saturday.