FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) — Victims of a devastating fire at Four Winds Apartments are getting help from city officials as they begin to piece their lives back together.
On Sunday afternoon, a resource center opened at the Fall River Government Center for four hours to connect fire victims with services and resources available to them.
“To get everyone under one roof so it makes it easy for the victims of the fire to come to one place and be able to talk to people,” Chief Communications Officer of the Red Cross of Massachusetts LLoyd Ziel said.
The fire destroyed the entire apartment building, leaving 80 people homeless. The fire started when a car crashed into the apartment building’s boiler room and ruptured a gas line. The driver, Judith Mauretti, 72, died as a result of the crash, and her passenger, Linda Leahey, 75, died the following day at the hospital.
The 36-unit building had to be torn down to completely extinguish the fire. The residents never had the chance to go back in and get any belongings.
Ever since the crash and fire, donations have continued to pour in for the victims, including money, gift cards and clothing.
During Sunday’s event, victims were put in touch with the organizations distributing those donations and answering questions for anyone with concerns.
“Everybody coming together just so we can offer, give the residents that went through the fire, give them an idea of what’s available to them,” Ziel said.
Besides members of the Red Cross, the United Way of Fall River was also there to help. The Firefighter Wives Association and the Fall River Fire Department also had a table, allowing people to pick up fire reports.
Fire victims were also able to learn more about getting new forms of identification, such as birth certificates, social security cards and drivers licenses.
“We’re hearing from them that they’re getting the things that they need,” Ziel said.
The city will hold more resource center hours on Jan. 8 from 1-7 p.m. at City Hall.
“That relationship that we have with those families continues until those families say nope, we’re good, I think I’m all set, we’re on our path, I’m up on our feet,” Ziel said.