EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

June 10, 2013

Kids raise money for house fire victim

Plaistow man in induced coma but expected to recover

By Alex Lippa
alippa@eagletribune.com

---- — PLAISTOW— William Bartlett remains in critical condition with burns covering half of his body after a house fire last month. But his family is optimistic that he will recover.

Bartlett, 29, suffered the burns when his house was destroyed by an early morning fire on May 17. He was able to escape with his dog through a window in the house but had to be airlifted to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

He remains in an induced coma in the hospital, but his mother said he has improved every day.

“He’s doing very well,” Rella Bartlett said. “They’ve done many surgeries, but doctors say he is healing quicker then they expected.”

She said doctors told him that her son’s recovery is about 10 days ahead of the anticipated schedule at this point.

“It’s still too early to tell when he will be out of the hospital,” she said. “But doctors told us that in a full year he may be somewhat back to normal. We’re just amazed with his progress.”

Bartlett’s dog, Roxy, made a full recovery after suffering burns to her paws and nose.

While Bartlett remains in the hospital, the community has rallied around him with numerous fundraisers and benefits.

“The whole community has just been absolutely amazing,” Rella Bartlett said. “It’s been very overwhelming for us.”

The mother said residents have offered to cook meals and donate gas cards and gift cards as she travels back and forth between Plaistow and Boston.

An anonymous group of residents created the William C. Bartlett Fund to accept proceeds from all the fundraisers. Since then, it seems as if the entire town has wanted to get involved.

Plaistow resident Brian Stack said his two sons Brady, 7, and Cameron, 5 told him they wanted to help after having to drive by the ruins of the home every day.

“They wanted to give some money from their piggy bank, but I told them I didn’t think that would be enough,” Stack said.

The boys instead sold lemonade in their driveway on May 25. After Stack posted the event on Facebook, sales were brisk.

“We ended up making $1,600 in just a couple of hours,” he said. “It was in the pouring rain, but people just kept coming and coming. People even handed them $50 and $100 bills.”

Siobhan Fuller of Plaistow also had a creative way to make money: selling handmade bracelets dedicated to Bartlett.

“His nickname is ‘Worm’ so each of my bracelets has a worm charm at the end of them,” she said.

Fuller said she has sold about 50 bracelets for $15 each.

Shawn Feeley, president of the Plaistow Fire Association, said his organization gave up a scheduled fundraiser for the association at Uno’s in Haverhill to raise money for Bartlett instead.

“We figured he could use it a lot more than we could,” Feeley said. “He’s well known in town and has always shown up to our fundraisers.”

Other fundraisers in the works include a golf tournament, a hockey tournament and a ham and bean supper.

For more information on the fund, go to www.facebook.com/TheWilliamCBartlettFund.