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Community responds after Havre de Grace family is displaced by fire

Contact Reporterdaanderson@baltsun.com

More than $2,000 in financial contributions, including gift cards, checks and cash, has been donated to the Susquehanna Hose Company of Havre de Grace to support a local family displaced by a fire two days before Christmas.

That is on top of the multiple items of clothing, toiletries and canned foods that are being collected at the volunteer fire company’s House 4 on Revolution Street, said firefighter Amanda Close, who is coordinating the donation drive.

“I’ve had a lot of phone calls from community members,” Close said Monday, describing those who have contacted her about supporting the family, including City of Havre de Grace officials, representatives of the local VFW post, churches and individual citizens.

The fire happened in the 200 block of Marshall Court in the Bayview Estates neighborhood. The fire was reported around 7:30 a.m. Sunday and caused an estimated $50,000 in damage. The cause is under investigation, Senior Deputy State Fire Marshal Oliver Alkire said Thursday.

Three people, including a woman, her mother and 18-year-old daughter, escaped the house along with their cat and dog, Close said. She has been in touch with the family but declined to release their names.

The Susquehanna Hose Company responded to the fire, along with the Aberdeen Fire Department, the Level Volunteer Fire Company and Community Fire Company of Perryville, according to the Susquehanna Hose page on Facebook.

Firefighters could see flames showing from a second-floor bedroom. The blaze was “quickly extinguished,” although it had spread to the hallway on the second floor and the attic, the Facebook post said.

The family cat was rescued while firefighters searched the house after the fire was extinguished. They also brought out Christmas presents and “anything that was salvageable,” Susquehanna Hose Chief Scott Hurst, who was at the scene, said Thursday.

Hurst said he “started getting inundated with phone calls” Sunday from people wanting to help. He assigned Close to serve as coordinator for the donation drive.

The chief stressed the fire company is “merely a collecting point and an organizer,” and “it was the community who was able to gather everything up and try to make things a little bit easier” for the family.

“I think it, once again, shows how great the city of Havre de Grace is and how great the community is,” Hurst said.

Hurst said the fire company hosted a “Breakfast with Santa Claus” fundraiser a few years ago to support another family who lost their house to fire Thanksgiving weekend.

Anybody who wants to help the Marshall Court family can call Close at 443-206-4767 or visit House 4 at 911 Revolution St. Close said Thursday that she is working on setting up a GoFundMe page for online donations.

Lt. Cameron Carter said Monday he had seen donations such as a box of canned food, gift cards, toothbrushes, toothpaste and razors.

Close said $1,125 in gift cards had come in as of Monday for companies such as Amazon, Target and local restaurants.

“Just over $1,000 in 24 hours [since the fire] is pretty cool,” she said.

Dean Bowman and Beth Brinsfield pulled up in their pickup truck outside the firehouse as Close was showing the donations. The couple gave Close a donated gift card for the Weis Markets supermarket chain.

Bowman and Brinsfield said they live in Bayview Estates, although they do not know the displaced family. Bowman noted that “it could have been us” affected by fire.

“It could have been anybody,” Brinsfield added. “We just felt bad for them; we wanted to help in any way we could.”

Marshall Court ends in a cul-de-sac, and a young girl could be seen riding her scooter around the circle Monday afternoon, past the damaged house.

Plywood covered some of the second-floor windows in the two-story house, while a blue tarp covered the rest. Blackened, charred material was scattered along the concrete driveway.

A bright yellow sign was posted on the front door, stating the house had been “winterized.” Hurst said that duty, which involved services such as turning off water, is performed by companies after house fires.

Hurst said the fire company will take donations as long as people are willing to make them and the family is willing to accept them.

“Hopefully things will turn out okay for them, and they get their house rebuilt,” Hurst said.

The monetary donations had reached about $2,000 as of Thursday, Close said in a follow-up interview. She encouraged people to donate items such as toiletries, non-perishable foods and pet supplies — Close said a number of items have come in for the cat, such as litter boxes, food and toys, and supplies are needed for the dog, too.

“It’s been pretty great,” she said of the community’s response.

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