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May 9, 2014

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

Victims of Forest Acres fire salvage what they can


“Firefighters told us the basement was like a swimming pool,” Gadd said. “That’s where all our trophies were.”

Firefighters who escorted residents in and out of their apartments yesterday morning got a special treat when Marianne Patch showed up with a plate of chocolate chip cookies. Her son, his girlfriend and their infant child were displaced by the fire.

“They (firefighters) deserve a treat after fighting Wednesday’s fire,” Patch said.

“The Red Cross was fantastic as well. They really took care of my son and his family. It’s an organization people should donate to.”

Nicholas Fortin and his girlfriend, Shawna Strangman, returned to the burned-out building yesterday in hopes of retrieving something, anything, from the rubble. They lost their cat, “Lick ‘ems” during the fire. The animal was still in the apartment when Strangman’s future-sister-in-law, Christina Simoes, was forced to jump from a rear second-floor patio to the ground below with her 18-month-old son, Camron, in her arms.

Fortin and Strangman were out shopping at the time.

“Christina said the alarms didn’t go off,” Strangman said. “She didn’t have time to grab anything other than her son.”

“No one has ever come to check our carbon monoxide detectors or smoke alarms,” Strangman added.

“Even when they were putting out the fire, no alarms were heard,” Fortin said.

Strangman said the Red Cross provided her with two nights at a hotel, along with debit cards to buy clothes and food.

“We’re going to have to restart our lives and look for another apartment,” she said.

Strangman’s 15-year-old sister, Serina Strangman, said she lost more than $2,000 in Justin Bieber memorabilia and DVDs, CDs, books, shirts, blankets, pillows and perfumes.

“It took me years to collect and now it’s all gone,” she said.

Fortin lost 24 boxes of comic books, as well as 100 boxes of baseball cards and other sports cards, and a pair of boxing gloves and a book autographed by former pro boxer Micky Ward of Lowell.

“We lost everything,” Fortin said.

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