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Fire guts Union home

Relief fund established to help family left homeless and car-less in early morning blaze

May 29, 2009
WAKEFIELD — Thanks to working, hard-wired smoke detectors, a family of four and their cat escaped an early morning fire Friday at their home at 159 Pigeon Hill Road in Union. However, the single story, wood-framed, vinyl-sided home was gutted in the blaze, which also destroyed the owner's Chevrolet Avalanche truck and most of the family's belongings, according to fire officials.

Wakefield Fire and Rescue Department Lt. Sam Morrill said the emergency fire call came into the Wakefield station at 3:49 a.m. on Friday. Upon arrival at the scene, the four residents, Vincent Brooks, Cynthia DeBow and her two children, Brianna, 13, and Ryan, 17, were already safely outside of the home, which was quickly devoured by flames. No injuries were reported, but fire officials said the residents were checked out by the ambulance crew.

Lt. Morrill said the residents reported being alerted to the fire by working smoke detectors, and said they saw the front wall on fire when they moved to the front of the home. They escaped through a back door. Fire damage to the home was so intensive that Lt. Morrill doubts a specific cause can be found, but he guessed that the fire started in front of the house or perhaps the porch. When fire crews arrived at the scene, the roof had already collapsed, he added.

The fire department used a tanker truck to draft water out of the Branch River and shuttle it to the scene nearby. Mutual aid was called and crews from the Ossipee Corner, Wolfeboro, Milton and Middleton Fire Departments provided assistance fighting the fire, which was under control about a half hour after first responding crews arrived.

Red Cross responds

Upon learning of the family's situation, a volunteer crew with the American Red Cross Lake Region Disaster Action Team was dispatched to help the family with emergency needs like housing, clothing and food. The family did find temporary lodging with family members but since are staying at a camping trailer at the home site, according to a family friend.

Rebecca Field, director of communications of the Granite Chapter of the American Red Cross, said the organization provides assistance free of charge with "no strings attached." The organization maintains a disaster relief fund so that it can provide debit cards and vouchers so that families affected by disaster or fire can purchase those things that they need. She said the organization and team members can also provide emotional support to those affected by disaster, or a guiding hand to a multitude of other available resources.

Relief fund established

Lisa Fabian, a friend of the family who established a relief fund for the family on Tuesday, said Brooks had hard-wired the smoke detectors in the home and after the fire urged others to make sure their detectors were hooked up. Cindy DeBow is well-known in the community as the owner of Cindy's Place restaurant which is now located in Sanbornville but was established in Union for many years, said Fabian. "She does everything she can for the community," said Fabian. She said Vincent "Vinny" Brooks is a contractor who works in Rye.

"The family lost everything," she said, adding she wants to get the word out about the fund. Although the home is insured, the family will need to replace belongings since they lost everything, she added.

Donations can be made to the Brooks and DeBow Fire Fund, Profile Bank, Sanbornville Branch, 65 Meadow Street, Sanbornville, NH 03872.

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