RED BANK: FIRE VICTIMS SEEK HELP

Owen Duncan and Mildred Johnson, below, speaking with acting Fire Marshal Tommy Welsh as firefighters battled the blaze in their home on May 27. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Two Red Bank siblings who lost their lifelong home in a fire last month are seeking the public’s help as they watch their funds dwindle.

Mildred Johnson and Owen Duncan escaped their burning house on Washington Street on May 27.

With the help of a volunteer at the Red Bank Public library, the pair launched a Go Fund Me campaign Wednesday in the hopes of raising $20,000 for housing and basic necessities.

Johnson, who is disabled, told redbankgreen that she and her brother, a retiree, are staying at an $87-a-night motel in Eatontown. They’ve used up their savings and are facing homelessness, she said.

“We don’t have much longer,” she said. “The funds are running out.”

Johnson said Mayor Pasquale Menna, in his capacity as a lawyer, is helping them try to determine whether they have homeowners’ insurance coverage. All their records were destroyed in the fire, she said.

Menna told redbankgreen that the home was in the name of the pair’s late mother, who took out a reverse mortgage at one point, and the mortgage went into foreclosure. He said it’s not yet clear if an insurance policy on the house was taken out by the lender.

“Balls are in the air, and they’re not landing quickly,” he said.

Meantime, the pair’s housing situation is complicated, Johnson acknowledged, by her refusal to give up her dog, Kato, an 8-year-old white German shepherd.

The dog was rescued from the fire by the pair’s nephew,¬†Daystar McMillan, 19, who lived with them at the time of the fire.

The pair have a sister who lives in Red Bank, but they’ve been estranged for years, the sister said.