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Kind-hearted Mill Basin residents have raised more than $50,000 for a down-on-their- luck family whose home was destroyed by a devastating, four-house fire — raising the cash in less than a week.

The Cardone family lost their house in a fire on March 9 after the ferocious flames from a neighboring home spread to theirs’ — and the fire couldn’t have happened at a worse time for the family of six. When Dominick Cardone’s son called to tell him the horrific news, he was at the hospital with his wife Janine, who was diagnosed with leukemia in October and was undergoing her fourth round of chemotherapy.

“We get a phone call from my son, ‘Dad, there’s a fire next door!’ ” said the father of four, who added that by the time he and his wife arrived at their home, everything was destroyed. “The rest is history.”

The massive fire was one of the worst disasters ever to strike the neighborhood, according to witnesses who watched 168 firefighters try to extinguish the fire that blazed for nearly three hours.

A longtime local said as soon as he heard about the catastrophe, he started an online fund-raising page for the Cardones, who have faced more than their fair share of trials recently. The online fund-raiser collected $49,957 donated by 530 people in just eight days. And a St. Patrick’s Day fund-raiser at the St. Bernard Parish Hall in Bergen Beach also raised more than $3,000 for the family.

“The family itself has been through hell in the past year and a half,” said Bobby Arena. “The community, people outside the community — everybody stepped up.”

About a year before the cancer diagnosis, Cardone said his wife underwent brain surgery as a result of a botched root canal. A dentist reportedly hit a nerve in her mouth and as a result, Cardone said his wife suffered from constant “electric shock” pains. She had just recovered from the surgery when she was diagnosed with cancer.

Making things even worse, Cardone said the matriarch usually handled their bills and as her health problems turned the family’s world upside-down, he isn’t sure whether their home insurance was up-to-date.

“She normally took care of it,” he said, adding that right now he doesn’t know what — if anything — will be covered by their insurance company. “I’m not sure of all the details right now.”

Arena said he doesn’t know any of the other families who suffered from the fire, which is why he didn’t make fund-raising pages for them, but he said the community is empathetic to all the victims of the disaster. As for the fund-raiser he created, Arena said he is glad he started it, even though he was initially unsure how Cardone would react.

“As a man, you don’t know how the other man is going to feel about it, receiving help,” said Arena.

But Cardone said the fund-raiser was truly a blessing because he doesn’t ask for help — even if he needs it.

“I’m not the kind of person that goes and asks people for money,” he said. “The funding is definitely helping us.”

To donate, visit www.gofundme.com/octqwc.

UPDATE: There is separate fund-raising page to help another family who lost their home to the massive fire. To help them, visit www.gofundme.com/ruthieborisshula.

Reach reporter Vanessa Ogle at vogle@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–4507. Follow her attwitter.com/oglevanessa.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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