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Memorial Service Held For Lowell Fire Victims

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LOWELL (CBS/AP) — A memorial service was held on Sunday at a Buddhist temple for victims and survivors of a devastating apartment fire that killed seven people in Lowell.

The service was held at for 5:30 p.m. Sunday at the Glory Buddhist Temple in Lowell. Hundreds gathered along with two surviving members of the Sak family and two children who escaped the fire. Gov. Deval Patrick, Lowell Mayor Rodney Elliot and Congresswoman Niki Tsongas also attended.

Five members of a Cambodian family, including three children, were among those who died in the pre-dawn fire Thursday. More than 40 other people of Cambodian origin lost their homes.

“This is where they come for comfort, healing,” said community organizer Paul-Ratha Yem.

Another attendee said it was sad the fire involved children.

“That’s all I think about is my kid. Just seeing all three kids like that, knowing that two of them survived. That was sad,” said attendee Jackson Lanh.

Monks at scene of fatal Lowell fire. (Photo by Jim Smith)

Monks at scene of fatal Lowell fire. (Photo by Jim Smith)

Lowell has the second-largest Cambodian-American population in the U.S. Figures from the 2010 census put the number at about 22,000, but community activists say they believe the number is as high as 35,000 to 40,000.

“I think [the service] means a lot to the city as a whole and certainly for the Cambodian community as well, knowing that there is so much support at a time of a grieving process,” said Lowell Mayor Rodney Elliot.

Donate: Lowell Fire Victims Fund

Investigators have not yet determined the cause of the fire, but will be back at the scene on Monday, according to Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan. She said finding the cause will not be easy and that the investigation will be meticulous.

TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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