In the wake of many people hearing fireworks set off near their homes July 4th weekend, Straus News found that many fire departments were no busier than usual. There were fires caused by the celebration, however.
In Goshen, Meredith Char and her two youngest children, Julia, 15 and Zachary, 11 were celebrating the 4th with sparklers on their porch, as they usually did. Oldest daughter Sarah, 18, was not home at the time. They did not realize that some sparks had fallen between the floorboards and ignited dead leaves and other debris under the porch until they saw an orange glow and then a flame. They tried to put it out themselves with water. Unable to access the area under the porch, the fire spread up the side of the home to the roof and into the house.
Daughter Julia ran to the neighbors and the fire department was called. “The fire spread so quickly and it was chaos,” Char said. Goshen Assistant Fire Chief Peter Easop said the fire department got there four minutes after the call, but the fire was already through the roof. The house burned to the ground despite the best efforts of the firefighters who fought the blaze until 5 a.m. the next morning. Heat from the fire also damaged some siding on neighbors Aileen and John Swift’s house. “No one was hurt, that’s the important thing,” Aileen said. Other fire departments who assisted were Campbell Hall, Pocatello, Silver Lake, Mechanicstown and Chester.
Neighbors Lee and John Loftus have been collecting money, furniture and clothes for the family and storing the latter two in their garage and home. They have started a GoFundMe page for Meredith Char and family: https://www.gofundme.com/f/meredith-char-family.
At this point the Char family will need to find storage, as well as long-term rental housing, hopefully in Goshen. They’re staying in a hotel for now and hope to eventually rebuild, but that will depend on insurance.
“The outpouring of support from the community has been just incredible and humbling,” Char said. Local business have offered gift certificates; Village Pizza has supplied meals for the family and WK Mechanical provided housing support for a week.
“It was beyond terrifying and traumatizing,” Char said. She is trying to be strong for her children.
Char is very grateful to the firefighters for putting the fire out and making sure it didn’t spread, and the police and volunteers who helped.