HAZLET, N.J. (WABC) – Fire officials in New Jersey are working to determine the cause of a house fire left a mother and her young daughter dead.

Flames engulfed a home on Brookside Avenue early Friday morning.

William Montanaro said his wife, Jackie Montanaro, 40, rushed back into the house and tried to save their youngest daughter, Madeline.

William and their 8-year-old daughter Elena were able to escape.

“I am heartbroken. I have lost the love of my life — my beautiful wife Jackie — and my sweet, loving, sassy little girl, Madeline,” Montanaro said in a statement.

Montanaro said his wife was a dedicated Customs and Border Protection officer and that she is a hero.

He said that when he rushed into the house for Madeline, he was engulfed in thick, hot black smoke.

Jackie didn’t hesitate and “stepped in with the love of a mother and the courage of a police officer to support her attempt to save our daughter.”

The family’s favorite dog, Duchess, a Goldendoodle, also died in the fire.

Monmouth County and community groups are accepting donations to help family members of victims displaced by the fire.

So far, more than $225,000 has been raised to help the family in a GoFundMe.

The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office says the fire does not appear to be suspicious.

READ ALSO | The NTSB is investigating the near-collision of two passenger planes at JFK


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