A crowdfunding campaign for a Smithfield family ravaged by a house fire reached its $3,000 goal on Wednesday, a mere three days after its launch.
“The family’s been hit pretty hard,” said Leslie Miranda, the family member who launched the crowdfunding campaign.
After celebrating the July Fourth holiday, Miranda said her brother-in-law’s family was asleep early Sunday morning when they were awoken by a neighbor frantically pounding their door. Leslie said the neighbor had smelled something burning and went to check his own home when he saw the flames and alerted the family. The fire took over quickly, Leslie said, while the parents and their three children hurried out with no time to grab belongings.
“By that time, it was already engulfed in flames,” Miranda said.
While the fire was burning, Leslie said she stayed with her own children while her husband went to help their family in need. Unable to sleep and “worrying to death,” Miranda said she began contemplating how she could help and set her sights on crowdfunding to help with the family’s daily living expenses.
“I’m not asking for too much, because they’re not asking for it,” Miranda said. “This is just a little bit to help them through the tragedy.”
Smithfield Fire Chief Jay Downs said firefighters responded to the fire at 1:30 a.m. and didn’t leave until 5 a.m. It took nearly 45 minutes to extinguish the flames, according to Downs. The fire was caused by used fireworks that had been disposed of in a garbage can near the home, Downs said. The garbage can caught fire and eventually made its way to the attic by way of the home’s eaves.
Down said there was no damage to other homes, though the neighbors were evacuated from the area for nearly an hour.
“It seems like this year there were a lot more problems with fireworks than there have been in years past,” Downs said. “Some years are worse than other years.”
Miranda and Downs said the damage was estimated at nearly $300,000. Though unsure how long it will take specifically to recover their home, Miranda said it will certainly require several months to achieve a semblance of normalcy.
Miranda said members of the family had only recently recovered from COVID-19, which had put them out of work for a period of time. Miranda said, one family member had returned to work on Tuesday for the first time since being diagnosed.
“They were financially already struggling because they were out of work for a while,” Miranda said.
Miranda said crowdfunding donations will be accepted through Friday, when she plans to shut down the campaign. Though the family has been dealt some blows, Miranda said they are getting better day-by-day.
For Miranda, the “wonderful” support of the community is heartwarming. She said the feedback on the campaign has been heartfelt and compassionate; she said donors and commenters have conveyed plenty of positive, empathetic messages to the family.
“I just really want to thank the community,” Miranda said. “Everyone’s very generous. Even the smallest amount, the family really appreciates it.”
For more information, visit www.gofundme.com/f/wussh-3000