EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


May 9, 2014

'We're going to have to restart our lives'

Victims of Forest Acres fire salvage what they can


Jessica Mangion, 35, lives in the second-floor left side apartment with her children, a 4-year-old daughter and two sons, ages 11 and 15. She was at work and her children were at school when she heard about the fire.

“I just got my cat, Zoe,” Mangion said yesterday morning. “We found her hiding under a bed. She was so panicked that she scratched me.”

Mangion said her 11-year-old son is traumatized.

Mangion said she wanted to thank the Red Cross for the kindness they showed to her children, especially her daughter, who was worried about her teddy bears.

“They gave her a Mickey Mouse stuffed animal and she was thrilled,” Mangion said. “The Red Cross offered us a hotel room and gave all the residents debit cards based on family size, as well as bags of toiletries. They were amazing. It makes me want to volunteer with them.”

Melissa Pienta, 30, and her boyfriend, Justin Gadd, 28, lived in a first-floor right side apartment with their 4-year-old son, Dakota. They said they lost everything because flames destroyed the apartment. They were at work at the time and their son was at his grandfather’s house.

“Dakota’s birthday was April 7 and we still had unopened toys,” Pienta said. “Everything is gone, including a new flat screen TV we got for Christmas and a brand new laptop computer.”

“Clothing, family photos, it’s all gone,” she said.

Pienta and Gadd said they both lost sports trophies, including her high school softball trophies and newspaper clippings, and his amateur championship powerlifting trophies. Gadd also lost two new salt water spinning reels and two rods he uses to fish on Plum Island.

Gadd said his son also lost Boston Bruins novelty items he got at a playoff game they took him to for his birthday, as well as a Chinese fighting fish named “Iron Man” that was in a fish bowl in his bedroom.

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