Fire displaces three families in New London
New London ― Three families, one of which planned to bring a newborn home from the hospital Wednesday, were left temporarily homeless Tuesday by a fire on Montauk Avenue.
The late night fire damaged the three-family home at 198 Montauk Ave. and appears to have originated on the stove in the second-floor kitchen. It was shortly after 11 p.m. when Terrence Cowart, who had been cooking earlier in the evening, noticed the flames on the stove and had a few moments of panic. The fire was spreading.
“My first concern was getting the children out of the house,” Cowart said.
Cowart, 28, woke his 8-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter, grabbed a bag of clothes and his 3-year-old daughter’s favorite stuffed animal and rushed his kids outside.
The fire was reported at 11:13 p.m. and while firefighters were able to stop the spread of the fire, it badly damaged the second-floor kitchen and left other parts of the home with smoke and water damage, New London Fire Inspector David Heiney said.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation. All three apartments have tenants and at least seven people were displaced.
Cowart said he, his daughter and son were uninjured. They were comforted by neighbors, who took them into their home late Tuesday, covered the children with blankets and sat them on the couch to watch a movie while firefighters were extinguishing the fire next door, Cowart said.
The family spent the night at Cowart’s sister’s home. On Wednesday, Cowart was back at Lawrence + Memorial Hospital to visit with his partner Rebecca Gorman and the couple’s new daughter, Reighna. Reighna and Gorman were due to be discharged from the hospital on Wednesday.
Without a home to return to, Cowart said the future is uncertain.
The Red Cross responded to the fire and have helped with emergency needs, such as money for a hotel stay. It remains unclear, however, when repairs to the home might be completed. The city’s building department condemned the building on Wednesday and the power will remain off until repairs are completed. Cowart’s second-floor apartment will require more extensive repairs.
Cowart expects he will be staying with his family at a hotel and spending some time regrouping, trying to figure out what to do next.
His said his children are a little bit shaken up but healthy and resilient.
The newborn child’s grandmother, Lisa Beth Darling-Gorman, has set up an online fundraiser to benefit the family at GoFundMe.com.
“They lost absolutely everything! I am heartbroken beyond words,” Darling-Gorman said in her online request for funding to help the family.
“The family is pulling together the best we can,” Darling-Gorman said in a phone conversation on Wednesday. The money being raised will help get the family back on their feet and allow the family to secure a new apartment, she said.
Cowart, Darling-Gorman said, is out of work because of an injury and the family was already struggling financially before the fire. She said the outpouring of support from community members already has been “staggering.” People have donated clothes, furniture and baby items.
The home is owned by Brooklyn, N.Y.-based MMK Associates, which purchased the home for $250,000 in June. A representative from the company was not immediately available to comment.