MENDON (CBS) – The town of Mendon is rallying around a family of six that lost its house to fire just days before Christmas.
No injuries were reported in 2-alarm blaze on North Avenue that broke out about 11:42 p.m.
When firefighters arrived, they found heavy flames emanating from the rear of the building. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Tim Flanagan, a relative, told WBZ-TV that the family bought the 200-year-old home recently and were in the process of renovating it.
Though there were working smoke detectors in the main part of the home, there were none in the part of the property where flames began. That area was under construction and no one was living there yet.
Deborah Flanagan, the mother, stayed up late to watch Netflix and heard crackling, then saw smoke, he said.
She rushed her husband, Kevin, and their four young daughters out of the house.
“They just made it out,” Tim Flanagan said.
The town’s Board of Selectman in cooperation with the police and fire chiefs have started an online fundraising page to help the Flanagan family. More than $29,100 had been raised for the family by 11 p.m. Friday.
“It’s Christmas. There’s four little children and two parents just don’t know what to do,” said Michelle Shaheen, Deborah Flanagan’s sister. “They are just having a hard time just realizing what happened over the last 24 hours.”
Shaheen and other family members sorted through donations that have come in at an astonishing rate. “Yes, it’s been wonderful,” said Shaheen. “It lifts up a community, and that’s what it’s doing today.”
“We will get them whatever they need we just want to be like Jesus’ hands and feet to this family,” Sue Allen, a friend and neighbor. She was also serving as drop-off spot for donations. “They definitely know they are well-loved.”
Donations can be dropped off at the Mendon Police Department.
On its Facebook page Friday, the Mendon Police Department posted a show of support for the family as they rebuild their lives after the devastating fire.
“Mendon residents Deborah and Kevin Flanagan and their four young children lost their home and everything in it … The home had been under renovation for over a year and according to Deborah and Kevin, it was a true labor of love,” the post read.
“Just months before completion and nearly a week before Christmas, a fire started in the addition portion of the house and spread to where the family was sleeping,” the post read. “While the town of Mendon and extended family are immensely grateful that the Flanagan parents, children (ages 1 to 10) and dog made it out unharmed, there is certainly damage to be recovered.”
The family is staying with relatives and is being assisted by the American Red Cross.
Mendon received mutual aid from Hopedale, Bellingham, Blackstone, Upton, Uxbridge, Northbridge, and Millville.