Hundreds of donations received in Somers after 4 children die in house fire
In the aftermath of the fire in Somers that left four children dead, the town has opened up a tax-deductible fund to collect donations for the victims' family.
The fire started in Somers Tuesday night, with neighbors trying to help put it out as firefighters arrived to the scene.
But the house was already engulfed in flames. Fire spread rapidly, cutting off the stairway, and trapping people on the second floor.
The children who died were ages 5, 6, 8 and 12.
Three of their siblings survived, although one had serious burn injuries.
"Our initial reaction is, of course, shock and tremendous sadness, but we are now moving into action mode," Matthew Cox, director of Somers' Department of Human Services, said in a statement.
The town has been actively coordinating with the family for a variety of supports and services such as counseling; immediate needs for clothing, personal care items; and establishing a tax-deductible fund in order to collect money for survivors.
Somers First Selectman Tim Kenney urged those donating to contribute to The Angel Fund, which is managed by the town.
“We're trying to ensure that any funds that are donated go directly to assisting the victims," Kenney said.
Hundreds have already approached the town to donate as of Thursday morning, Kenney said. He did not share the total amount of money raised.
How to help
Kenney urged people to avoid making donations to individuals or organizations through sites like GoFundMe, which he said can be hard to verify.
If you're interested in donating, Somers town officials are directing people to mail in checks to the following address:
The Angel Fund
Town of Somers
619 Main St.
Somers, CT 06071
What we know about the fire so far
Officials don't believe the fire was criminal in nature, although an investigation continues into how it started.
Neighbor David Kellam said he saw flames coming from the house late Tuesday night and tried to help.
"Somebody came from the second floor jumping out the window," Kellam said. "It was just horrible — horrifying. I haven't slept all night. It's just unbelievable."
The children lived with their mother, who was not home at the time; her 19-year-old daughter, who was watching over the other children, escaped by jumping out of a second-story window, Keeney said.
Fire Chief John Roache said fire crews had a difficult time getting inside the home because a back entrance was blocked and flames prevented entry through the front door.
About 60 personnel from 12 agencies responded to the fire, he said.
“The entire front of the house was heavily involved in fire," Roache said. "The house was an older construction with numerous concealed spaces, which allowed the fire to spread rapidly.”
Three children were pronounced dead at the scene and a fourth child died of their injuries at a local hospital, according to Roache. One firefighter was also injured during the fire, but was treated and released from a hospital.
Firefighters rescued three dogs from the home, but a litter of puppies died, Roache said.
Schools in Somers were providing counseling to staff, students and families affected by the fire, according to superintendent Dr. Sam Galloway.
"Our Somers community is dealing with an unimaginable loss," Galloway said in a statement. "Assistance will be ongoing as we begin to process this tremendous loss."
Elected officials — in Somers and around the state — expressed their condolences.
"The news of the fire ... in Somers that took the lives of four young children is absolutely devastating," Gov. Ned Lamont said in a statement. "I am appreciative of the work of the first responders on the scene who provided aid during this emergency. My prayers are with their families and friends."
Fire investigators remained at the home Wednesday in an attempt to determine the cause of the fire.
The Connecticut State Police's Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit as well as the Eastern District Major Crime Squad are assisting in the investigation.
“This is the first incident like this I’ve ever been a witness to," Keeney told reporters. "It will take us a long time to get over it."
Connecticut Public's Mark Mirko, Matt Dwyer and The Associated Press contributed to this report.