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Foundation pledges to help family of Inwood firefighter who died in line of duty

Jacqueline Scott-Sanford, the widow of 43-year-old volunteer firefighter

Jacqueline Scott-Sanford, the widow of 43-year-old volunteer firefighter Joseph Sanford Jr., who died from injuries sustained fighting a house fire in December 2014, speaks at the Inwood Fire Department Tuesday, April 7, 2015. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

The widow of an Inwood firefighter who died in the line of duty won't have to worry about making mortgage payments any longer.

A nonprofit founded to memorialize a firefighter killed on 9/11 announced Tuesday that it will pay off the mortgage and cover the cost of any future home renovations to aid Joseph Sanford Jr.'s family.

The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation said it plans to raise more than $300,000 in donations and some of the proceeds from tickets to an Aug. 4 Yankees game. Bank of America, which holds the mortgage, has agreed to match up to 50 percent of the money the foundation raises.

"We're going to raise . . . enough money to pay off your mortgage so you don't have to worry about that ever again," foundation chairman Frank Siller told Jacqueline Scott-Sanford.

At the Inwood fire station, where Sanford served 17 years, Siller spoke of the family's "tremendous sacrifice."

"Your husband's a hero," he told Scott-Sanford.

In a faint voice, Scott-Sanford thanked the foundation and more than two dozen Inwood and New York City firefighters who gathered for the ceremony.

"The love and support in this city has been amazing," she said. The death of her husband of 22 years, she added, "has shaken our family to its core."

Tuesday, the foundation also announced plans to pay for renovating the home of slain NYPD Det. Wenjian Liu. More than $1 million has been raised to pay off mortgages held by Liu and fellow Det. Rafael Ramos.

Liu, 32, and Ramos, 40, were killed in an ambush attack on Dec. 20 while sitting in their squad car in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn.

The day before they died, Sanford, 43, was critically injured in Woodmere when part of a home's first floor collapsed. He was found in the debris-strewn, flooded basement and rushed to the hospital. He died on Dec. 23.

Scott-Sanford recalled Tuesday how her husband woke her after hearing the fire call.

"Babe, Woodmere has a job," he told her.

"Alright Joe, you know the drill," she said. "Keep your head up; be careful."

"I'll see you when I get home," he said.

Sanford, a former assistant chief, was posthumously promoted to chief. To make a donation to the foundation's fund, visit

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