A New Jerseyan serving on his local volunteer fire department got a rude awakening on Wednesday afternoon, when he boarded an engine to put out a fire…at his house.
Tabernacle Fire crewmember Jason Penwell was en-route to the fire when Chief Dave Smith radioed a very specific address. Shortly after, Penwell arrived to watch his house burn to the ground. His family was spared, but one of his dogs was killed in the inferno.
“I happened to be at the firehouse at the time and never thought it could be my house,” Penwell recalled. “All I had time to do was pull up my suspenders (on his fireman’s overalls), jump on the truck and answer the call.”
Since the fire, an online fundraising campaign raised over $10,000
“Those who know me know I’m never short of words,” he said. “I really don’t know what say other than thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
When he’s not working with TFD, Penwell is a non-commissioned officer and firefighter in the US Air Force, stationed at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.
According to USA Today, the base has arranged for the Penwell family to obtain new housing.
Penwell’s son -who saw the fire when he came home from school- managed to save five out of the six family dogs.
While the family struggles to pick up the pieces, the elder Penwell knows the importance of putting on a brave face.
“Of course we are all upset,” Penwell said Thursday, “but today is day one of recovery and I have to stay positive for my kids.”