Condo fire victims try to regain their bearings
An eerie quiet blanketed over the scene the day after a fire that destroyed a block of units Aug. 21 in the Candlewood condos in New Milford.
Where a roof should have been, there was only sky framed by burned siding.
A lone guitar case leaned against the door of one unit, and the bright blooms of flower boxes lined up on the ground contrasted oddly with the blackened ruin in the background.
Activity there was dispersed by following morning, much as the residents of the building had done. Some were staying in hotels, others with friends or family.
A man who owns several units in other parts of the complex viewed the destruction and expressed thanks no one had lost their lives in the fire.
"It's just this," he said, indicating the burned building and declining to provide his name. "This can be replaced eventually."
One woman was injured and was taken to the hospital for care. A dog died in the fire.
The cause had yet to be determined.
"It's under active investigation," New Milford fire marshal Karen Facey said.
The American Red Cross sent a team to the scene the day of the fire. The volunteers spent several hours on site talking with and assisting displaced residents.
Patricia Mendes had been living in one of the units most damaged by the fire. She spent the night at a hotel in Bethel.
"They gave me a card. The insurance is paying for the hotel," she said.
Mendes said she had planned to register for classes at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury under a cross-registration agreement with Naugatuck Valley Community College, but wasn't able to do that.
"I lost everything in the fire," she said.
She mentioned a friend had started organizing donations through a web page, but Mendes had not yet been able to visit the Odd Fellows Hall in New Milford, where donations were being collected.
"One thing I learned a few years ago when I did a drive for Hurricane Sandy is, go directly to the victims and don't assume what they need. Know what they need," McFadden said.
She added some people may not have any place to put donated clothing, but other displaced residents may.
McFadden expressed thanks for members of the Odd Fellows Club who have helped move donations brought to their hall.
She encouraged people with items to donate to visit the Facebook page to see what would be needed.