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Community Decorates Christmas Tree in Memory of Man Killed in West Haven Fire

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A West Haven family whose uncle died after a fire last week has planted a Christmas tree in his memory and community members started decorating it.

Frederick Hart, 88, died in a fire on Dec. 6 in his home on Collis Street in West Haven.

John McCarthy, Hart’s nephew, describes him as a hardworking and well-liked man. The last few days have been difficult for McCarthy as he grieves.

“It’s tough, it was my uncle, my godfather and to have to come here and see the house like this every day, it’s really tough. That’s why my father-in-law gave us an idea to plant the tree,” said McCarthy.

A few days ago, with the help of a local landscaper, they planted a Christmas tree and encouraged people to come by and decorate it with ornaments.

“It seems like everyone is catching on and maybe thinking even above and beyond that they might have a loved one that has passed and they thought this was a good way to remember them as well as our Uncle Freddy too,” said McCarthy.

There are already more than 25 ornaments on the tree and McCarthy said there are several that stand out to him.

“Well, I think the birds are, you know, the ones that sort of hit me the most. It's a sign of life on there,” said McCarthy.

McCarthy and his family are grateful for the community support.

“It makes me happy and sad at the same time you know,” McCarthy said. “It’s nice to see that they’re remembering him and doing beautiful things.”

McCarthy hopes the tree stands as a living legacy and something they can redecorate in the years to come.

“We miss ya, Uncle Fred, and we hope this is a good way to always remember you,” said McCarthy.

The West Haven fire department, fire marshal’s office and the Connecticut State Police, Fire and Explosives Investigation Unit (FEIU) investigated and determined the fire started accidentally in the living room.

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