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After a fire destroyed a Catonsville family’s home, neighbors are stepping up to help

Three days after John Hash was directed by his employer T. Rowe Price to work from home, he no longer had one.

Hash’s wife, Helen, a nurse manager at University of Maryland Medical Center, had more on her plate last week as hospitals scramble to prepare for a possible surge in patients related to the coronavirus pandemic.

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They, along with their two sons, students at Salisbury University and Mount St. Joseph’s in Baltimore, were at their home on Bitternut Court Wednesday evening when the fire started. It began in the garage, setting off smoke alarms that John Hash thought was an accident, just his sons playing around: “It’s happened a thousand times,” John Hash said.

Then 17-year-old Michael Hash saw the smoke, and ran inside to alert his family.

“He basically got us out,” John Hash said. “As far as I’m concerned, he saved my life.”

“Then sadly we sat there and watched the house burn.”

In the wake of the fire, the Hash’s neighbors, family members and strangers have given $39,878 to a GoFundMe campaign launched by Angela Sabourin, a neighbor in the Patapsco Woods development. The campaign had raised $20,000 well within its first 48 hours as it circulated on social media.

“I can’t thank the community enough,” Hash said. “The outpouring has just been... absolutely incredible.”

Sabourin said she started the effort to raise money to cover the costs of items not typically covered by insurance.

“This family has given back before and now it is our turn to take care of them,” she wrote.

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“They just are always ready to help out anyone in the community that needs any help,” Sabourin said. “This is such a close knit community that when something tragic happens ... everyone finds out about it, and everyone loves to reach out."

About 50 firefighters from Baltimore County Fire Department worked for hours to contain the fire, which had spread from the garage to the home where the Hashes had lived for 19 years. The home was uninhabitable, a department spokesman said. The fire’s cause is still under investigation, according to the department.

The Hashes will be displaced for at least a year to work with insurance companies and rebuild the house in Catonsville’s Patapsco Woods development. Family photos, his son’s car, a Harley Davidson motorcycle passed down to Hash’s son by his grandfather, and their clothes are all gone.

The family left the charred remains of their home to shelter in a Catonsville hotel with “literally nothing but the clothes on our backs,” Hash said. The next day, the family heard the news that Gov. Larry Hogan had ordered the closure of malls by Thursday evening.

Rushing to Kohl’s in Ellicott City, the family discussed the fire while waiting in line to buy new clothes. A woman in front of them overheard and gave $100 in cash, Hash said.

Despite the strain put on state restaurants that have been forced to close down dine-in options amid the pandemic, “We’ve been contacted by just about every restaurant that wants to supply us food,” Hash said. The Mothers’ Club, a group of volunteers at Mount St. Joseph’s, as well as the local Cub Scout community have also stepped up to explore ways to help the family, Hash, a Scout Master, said.

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The “overwhelming” support “has just absolutely floored us,” Hash said.

Hash said the donations will help pay for “immediate needs” like clothing and a laptop, and unforeseen costs insurance may not cover.

“Everyone’s just been so generous,” Sabourin said.

Those who wish to donate can do so at https://www.gofundme.com/f/hash-family-fire-support.

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