Each week, Swampscott Reporter editor Katrina Powell rounds up and reflects on her recent published work, giving readers an in-depth look at life in the newsroom. This post does not reflect the opinions of the Swampscott Reporter or its parent company, GateHouse Media New England. All opinions expressed in the post belong to Katrina Powell, and did not hinder her ability to be objective and unbiased in her reporting and writing.
When you live in a small community, people have a tendency to look out for one another. And that’s something I witnessed first hand this past week, after the news broke of a fire on Andrew Road in Swampscott.
Immediately after learning of the ongoing blaze, I called my childhood best friend, whose parents are Andrew Road residents, hoping they were OK.
“It’s right across the street from us,” she said over the phone. “It’s so horrible. I’m watching it happen right now from my window.”
I dashed over there as fast as possible and was greeted by the chaotic scene of first responders and onlookers. Given the severity of the blaze, several local fire departments were called in to provide backup. The fire was out of control, and the frigid temperatures were a hinderance to the fire-suppression equipment. Firefighters worked quickly to douse the nearby houses with water, hoping the fire wouldn’t victimize any more homes.
Thankfully, there was no one inside the home where the fire initially broke out.
Hours later, the fire was finally extinguished, leaving the home a mess of ash and smoke. All of their possessions were gone, just like that. And sadly, the fire even claimed the life of their dog.
I can’t even begin to imagine what this family might be feeling at this very moment. And it breaks my heart to think about all that they have lost.
But the response from the community since that tragic day has been absolutely incredible. It took no time at all for townsfolk to step up and volunteer in whatever way possible, to attempt to ease the suffering of this one local family. The response was downright amazing, and it was so incredible to see neighbors, businesses, teachers, elected officials and even complete strangers lending a helping hand. I’ve been knee deep in phone calls and emails all week, all asking if I can publish something in the paper to promote one collection or another. It’s truly remarkable.
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Community helps family rebuild after tragic fire
Residents and businesses in and around Swampscott are coming together in this difficult time to help the family heal. Last Saturday, Swampscott High School held a collection day for gift cards for the family. Gift cards are also still being collected at the Swampscott office of Jack Conway Real Estate, located at 410 Humphrey St. The Real Estate office has also helped the family get into a temporary home, Pete explained earlier this week.
When the six members of the Ghirardini family of Swampscott left their home on 50 Andrew Road the morning of Thursday, Jan. 3, they never anticipated the tragedy that would touch their family that day.
“It’s something that you never, ever expect to happen to you, so it’s really just been surreal,” said Pete Ghirardini earlier this week.
At approximately 9:15 a.m. Thursday, their home caught fire, engulfing the multiple-story house in smoke and flames. State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan and Swampscott Fire Chief Kevin Breen said the fire was an accident, in a report released by The Department of Fire Services Thursday night. The investigation revealed that the fire started at the stove.
In the past week, the Swampscott community has stepped up to help Pete, his wife Laura, and their four children — Emma, 14, twins Lilly and Abigail, 10, and Christian, 8 — in many different ways.
“We haven’t really been reading the news but our friends have been telling us about all the different fundraisers and other efforts in town,” Pete said. “It’s just amazing. The generosity has been so overwhelming and we’re so thankful for everything.”