Over $225K raised after sisters killed, hurt in Somerville, NJ house fire
SOMERVILLE — Borough residents have displayed purple ribbons around Somerville, in memory of an 8-year-old girl who died in a devastating fire which also left her sister critically hurt.
While mourning young Cecilia "Cece" Brizuela, as identified by the girl's maternal aunt, Jordan Hunter, a GoFundMe campaign has been collecting donations for surviving family, including 9-year-old Juliana Brizuela.
She has remained in critical condition at the Burn Center at Saint Barnabas, where the girls' mother, 41-year-old Rebecca (Nash) Brizuela, also was hospitalized, Hunter confirmed to New Jersey 101.5 on Sunday.
Donations also have been made to support the family via a separate GoFundMe campaign, created by the girls' paternal aunt, Fatima Brizuela.
A third, online fundraiser also was being operated by the non-profit Girls on the Run, an athletic program in which Juliana Brizuela has been a participant.
Jorge Brizuela, the girls' father, shared a message on his personal Facebook page on Saturday, thanking community members for their support.
"So many of you have shown my family and I grace and generosity. I just want to thank all of you so far. Its going to be long road to recovery and I appreciate all of your well wishes," the written message said.
Also in the fire was 31-year-old Anthony Vargas, Rebecca Brizuela's boyfriend, according to Hunter.
She said Vargas managed to get Rebecca and Juliana Brizuela out of a second floor bedroom window as the flames and smoke quickly spread at the Eastern Avenue home around 2 a.m. Friday.
Attempts to reach Cecilia Brizuela in a separate, rear bedroom on the second floor, were unsuccessful due to the extreme and fast moving fire, Somerville first responders had previously said.
She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Residents of Somerville gathered Saturday night for a brief candle lit vigil outside the charred home, which stood behind police barricades as investigation of the scene continued.
A Facebook group created to support the Brizuela family generated numerous comments and photos shared by teachers and family friends, remembering Cecilia as a bright, friendly and sweet child.
As of Sunday, there was no update from Somerset County Prosecutor Michael Robertson as to what might have started the house fire.