hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

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May 15, 2014

City comes together to help fire victims

HAVERHILL — Residents and organizations across the city are coming together to help victims of the May 7 fire that destroyed 10 Forest Acre apartments and damaged another 10, forcing 46 people from their homes.

Fire investigators at still looking into the cause of the blaze at 21-23 Forest Acres Drive, part of the large Forest Acres apartment complex in the city’s Bradford section.

Officials said all residents of the complex escaped injury except for Christina Simoes, 24, who remains in a Boston hospital with spinal injuries she incurred after jumping from the second floor of her burning home with her 18-month-old son in her arms.

Simoes’ father said his daughter will be in the hospital for at least several weeks and faces a long recovery.

Meanwhile, the city is working with the complex’s owner to find suitable housing for people who lost their homes, while local organizations are collecting money, clothes and other items for the victims.

Mayor James Fiorentini said the city set up an account at Pentucket Bank to support the families that were displaced by the fire.

Donations can be made at the following Pentucket Bank locations: 1 Merrimack St., 395 Lowell Ave. at Westgate Plaza and 120 Lincoln Ave. All of the money collected will go directly to the families, the mayor said.

“When the fire first started, our residents reached out to my office to lend a hand,” Fiorentini said. “Our community once again has united in a time of need.”

Ruth’s House thrift shop at 111 Lafayette Square is working closely with the Red Cross and other agencies to help the victims.

“We’re willing to give them all the clothes they need,” said Mary Ellen House, manager of Ruth’s House.

Ruth’s House is open Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. More information is available by calling Ruth’s House at 978-521-5575.

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