Pemberton neighborhood rallys to help fire victims

PEMBERTON, N.J. - December 30, 2011

Browns Mills Emergency Squad EMTs could only standby as firefighters in Pemberton Township tried to save a seven year old girl in a burning home Wednesday night.

"It was emotions of anticipation, and then there was sorrow when we knew there was nothing we could do," said Chief Mark Heerschap.

Lamiyah Graves was killed, but four of her siblings escaped.

Browns Mills Emergency Squad Chief Mark Heerschap could not save Lamiyah, but he knew his crew could help her family by collecting necessities.

Within 24 hours, the station was packed with tons of toys, food and clothes.

"We have businesses helping, people coming in off the street, people responding to facebook posts," said Chief Heerschap.

Investigators say Lamiyah's mom, Shirita Turner, a mother of 9, was in Philadelphia helping her son buy a car when she missed the bus home.

She left her 14 year old daughter in charge.

Electrical problems may be to blame for the fire.

The Burlington County Prosecutor's office has not said if it will pursue child neglect or endangerment charges against Turner.

Those in the community who are trying to help are focusing on her children.

"I would like to think if something like that happened to me, that maybe somebody would help me out too," said Theo Cahall.

There have been so many donated items; the emergency squad had to move the ambulances outside to make room. And they are expecting more donations.

There are two fire and EMS stations in nearby Woodland Township that are helping store the overflow.

"It's just incredible and we've been offered another building also so as soon as more stuff comes in, we'll be moving it to another building," explained Sharon Heerschap.

The squad plans to start giving the donated items to the family, which has lost so much, on Saturday.

"I just hope mom and the children can overcome the pain and suffering," said Sharon.

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