Community Rallies to Help Fire Victims

April 4, 2012
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The 7-alarm blaze at 328-330 Chelsea St. Sunday took firefighters from Boston and Chelsea nearly seven hours to put out. The inferno caused a partial collapse of 330 Chelsea St. gutted the two brick structures. The total damage was estimated at $2.5 million and left 30 people homeless.

The entire community is pitching in to help the 30 people displaced by the seven-alarm blaze that gutted two attached brick buildings on Chelsea Street near Day Square Sunday.

“There were some real heroes that worked around the clock to help the families during the blaze,” said City Councilor Sal LaMattina who joined Mayor Thomas Menino at the fire Sunday as firefighters battle the inferno into the night.

“This was a real community effort and all the resources of residents, volunteers, state and city staffers and non-profits were at the victim’s disposal so they could be helped and moved into temporary or permanent housing almost immediately,” said LaMattina.

Both LaMattina and Menino pointed to La Chiva owner Rodrigo Angulo as one resident that stepped up to help.

“Mr. Angulo was clutch,” said Menino of the Day Square business owner. “Without hesitation he came around the corner and donated food and drinks to the families that were left homeless and the firefighters helping to battle the blaze.”

Staffers for Eastie elected officials also pitched and began helping residents almost immediately.

“One woman, Catherine Megna, who lived in the building for several decades lost all her diabetes medicine in the fire so we were able to work with East Boston Neighborhood Health Center to get her prescriptions immediately filled,” said Menino’s East Boston liaison Ernani DeAraujo.

DeAraujo and State Representative Carlo Basile’s Chief of Staff Adrian Madaro also worked to get housing for the fire victims through the Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (NOAH). The Mayor also director the city’s fire relief fund to help victims pay for first month’s rent and security deposits on new apartments. Most of the victims were renters.

“It was apparent from the beginning this was a huge community effort,” said Madaro. “Almost every social service agency was calling to see how they could help.”

As of Monday all victims had found housing elsewhere and over $6,000 in food and clothing had been donated.

The three children affected by the fire attend the Patrick J. Kennedy School and there, parents and teachers began taking up collections of food and clothing for the students and their families.

The Scared Heart Church on Brooks Street is using Holy Thursday on April 5 as an opportunity to take up collections for the fire victims.

Also, a fund with an initial deposit of $2,500 from East Boston Savings Bank has been established to benefit the families.

“If you would like to make a contribution to the fund, donations can be dropped off at any EBSB branch office during business hours,” said EBSB President and CEO Richard Gavagnano. “Or, donations can also be mailed to The Families of the Chelsea Street Fire Fund, c/o East Boston Savings Bank, 10 Meridian Street, East Boston, MA 02128.  All checks should be made payable to The Families of the Chelsea Street Fire.”

The fire at 328-330 Chelsea St. took over seven hours to battle and included fire departments from Boston and Chelsea.

As of Monday, BFD was still investigating the cause of the blaze that started in the third floor of 330 Chelsea St. and quickly spread to the floors below. Several hours into the fire the inferno breached the firewall between 330 and 328 Chelsea St. and spread to the adjoining three family. The blaze caused the partial collapse of 330 Chelsea St. and gutted 328 Chelsea St.

The fire caused over $2.5 million in damage and left 30 people homeless as work crews worked Monday and Tuesday to demolish both homes damaged by the blaze.

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