Picking up the pieces: Valgar Street fire victims grateful for community's help

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Photo Gallery | Recovering memories

BRATTLEBORO — Despite the loss of possessions, some of the occupants left homeless by Saturday's fire on Valgar Street have expressed their gratitude rather than disappointment with the situation.

"I've just gained a larger sense of community through this," said resident of apartment 30, Nicholas Lalanne through an interpreter for the deaf, who was brought to tears by his statement.

"Of course you would count on family and close friends, but even some strangers and parents from my daughter's school are coming to help us, and we really cherish all that support that we are receiving," added Lalanne's wife, Rebecca.

Since the Saturday morning fire, 11 out of 12 families have been set up with case workers who have assisted the families with their basic needs.

The families in apartments 32 and 34 have lost just about everything they have, except for each other and their pets. Others on Valgar Street, such as Nicholas, Rebecca and their three children, will look for alternative housing because their building was significantly damaged and deemed unsafe. According to Rebecca, her housing manager said their apartment repairs could take up to six months.

The Lalannes said that though they are grateful, they do feel the strain of changing their daily routine with their three children Jaya, 6; Desima, 3 and Adira, 1.

They're are not the only family at the complex who are putting their children's interests first. Amanda Bragg and her husband, Ben, who have lost everything from their apartment 34, said they're doing their best to maintain a normal day for their three kids. "We're looking to create new memories and new adventures for our family to outweigh some of these bad ones," said Amanda. "Our first goal is our children, that everyday should be as normal as can be for them."

According to the Brattleboro Police Department, the cause of the fire is under active investigation by BPD detectives and the Brattleboro Fire Department.

The American Red Cross and the Department for Children and Families through Economic Service Division have helped these 11 families by providing them with the appropriate amount of money for their basic needs such as food and shelter. Lloyd Ziel, chief communications officers for the American Red Cross, New Hampshire and Vermont, said they have made several attempts to get in touch with the 12th family, but have not heard back at this time.

"We plan for the worst and hope for the best," said Ziel about their response to emergencies. Ziel believes that within two to three hours after the first alarm for the fire, about 18 workers from American Red Cross helped in some fashion.

Love it Twice, a children's clothing consignment store at 464 Putney Road, has helped some of the families displaced by the fire and those that would like to help can call the store at 802-490-2160 or stop in between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

The American Red Cross New Hampshire and Vermont Region is also accepting donations for fire victims at redcross.org/local/nhvt.

Individuals have been appealing for help for families displaced by the fire at GoFundMe, an online crowdfunding site:

• The Braggs family: www.gofundme.com/braggsrebuilding.

• Maria Vargas and family: www.gofundme.com/vm959adw and www.gofundme.com/n695mpak.

• The Schoolcraft family: gofundme.com/rn939rrw and gofundme.com/helpschoolcrafts.

• General fire relief: gofundme.com/9595uhuk.

Maddi Shaw can be reached at 802-254-2311 ext. 275


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