WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- A man who risked his life as a New York firefighter at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, is now homeless. Flames engulfed his home in New Hanover County this morning, and investigators are still trying to figure out why.
"To go through what he did with 9/11 and then come and have this happen to his house, it's just really sad," neighbor Bobby Gene Harvey said. "I mean, of all people."
Tuesday morning, 9/11 first responder and retired New York firefighter Jimmy Kadnar's home on Champlain Drive in New Hanover County caught fire. It burned quickly and destroyed most of the house and the siding on neighboring homes.
Neighbors say Kadnar's wife Barbara, their five children and their dog were home at the time of the fire, but were able to get out of the house quickly. They say the family heard popping noises in the front of the house, and when Barbara looked on the front porch, it was engulfed in flames.
Neighbors say Kadnar is active in the community, showing his patriotism constantly. He even helped carry the National 9/11 Flag in the NC 4th of July Festival Parade in Southport Monday.
Friends say Kadnar had September 11 memorabilia in his garage, including a piece of steel from Ground Zero that he recently helped bring to Wilmington to be part of a memorial. Firefighters say they were able to recover his 9/11 motorcycle and that the steel was completely protected.
Investigators say they are still trying to figure out what started the fire. Fire Marshal Raymond Griswold says this case hits close to home, because Kadnar risked so much as a firefighter.
"I mean, he's a firefighter but we take care of them like we take care of any other neighbor, and we take it to heart," Griswold said.
Kadnar's next door neighbor says he is going to do everything he can to help.
"He's a hero, and it's time for people like me to step up and be thankful and help this family out and help him," Rob Page said.
Other neighbors say they plan to rally around the family, helping any way they can.
"Your home is where your heart is, and this is where he chose to move to after 9/11," Harvey said. "We just want to gather and show him love and support."
The Kadnars lost just about everything in the fire. Relief donations are being accepted at Britt Motorsports at 6431 Market Street and Mail Boxes Etc. in Monkey Junction