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Family seeking help after 25 year Veteran firefighter suffers serious burns, loses everything

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He’s volunteered as a firefighter in the Dunellen, N.J. community for more than 25 years.

Now Joe Keleman’s family is reaching out to the same community for it’s help while their son and brother travels the long road to recovery after being seriously burned when his home exploded June 11.

After the explosion, Keleman, 47, was found lying on his lawn. One of his three cats was killed and, everything he owned was gone.

His family describes Keleman as an extremely kind and giving person, and says on his GoFundMe page, “Whatever you need, Joey is always there with a lending hand. He would give you the shirt off his back.”

Now Keleman’s friends and family in the community are helping restart his life.

The GoFundMe page created June 17 has amassed more than $8,200 and the Dunellen Fire Department is accepting cards and donations on his behalf.

“We are overwhelmed with emotion, brother-in-law Anthony Fiorentino tells NJ.com. “It’s an outpouring of love, and it’s absolutely unbelievable.”

Keleman, who suffered second-degree burns on 28 percent of his body, along with head lacerations, will require skin graft surgeries and physical therapy that could last more than a year, according to NJ.com.

He is currently in stable condition and on a ventilator at Saint Barnabas Medical Center’s burn unit.

“Everything was lost and he’s just in serious condition,” Fiorentino, tells NJ.com.

He tells NJ.com the family’s first reaction to the news was “disbelief and shock.”

Authorities said natural gas might have caused the fire, which was contained within an hour and which led to nearby power outages. NJ.com reports an investigation into the explosion is still ongoing.

Keleman, according to his GoFundMe page, will require extensive and long-term medical care, the cost of which will be astronomical. In just 5 days, medical care for the two cats reached $3,000 dollars.

Piscataway Mayor Brian Wahler tells ABC 7 News that Keleman surviving the blast is “a miracle.”

“It’s just amazing the fact if you look at the destruction in the background that anyone could have gotten out of the explosion alive, so the fact that the individual is alive is a miracle unto itself, the mayor said.

The family is very thankful to anyone considering helping Keleman on his road to recovery.

“Our sincere thanks to everyone who takes this donation request into consideration,” the family said on the GoFundMe page.

 

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