Flames poured out of a three-family home on Miller Street in Meriden last week when most were fast asleep. Hector Toledo lived on the first floor and says he heard the smoke detectors going off, woke his wife, and they ran for safety.
"We had to get everybody up and get out because the fire was already taking over,” said Toledo. "You want to get out. You don't want to lose your life."
All three families made it out but most of, if not everything, they owned was gone.
"It's devastating, and you think about what if it happened to you. You would hope people would come together as a group to support," said Meriden Council of Neighborhoods President Holly Wills.
That's what many in the community are doing. On Tuesday, Meriden's Council of Neighborhoods, the police and fire department, and Hunter's Ambulance held a fundraiser at the fire house on Pratt Street. People dropped off much-needed supplies including blankets, small appliances, and toys.
"Thank God they got out alive. That's the most important thing, so we need to help them. We need to give them a fresh start, and we need to do it as a community," said Lower East Side Watch Dogs Captain Diane Kubeck.
"Everybody comes out to help everybody, and it's a great thing. I mean, we're all looking out for each other," said North End Neighborhood Association President Steven Cardillo.
For Toledo and the other families, it means a lot that so many care. He says that kindness has lifted him up during this difficult time.
"It put a smile on my face. It brought some life back to me. I know there's hope," said Toledo.
The Council of Neighborhoods says they're looking for new household items like dishes, small kitchen appliances, glasses, silverware, bath towels, blankets, pillows, sheets, toiletry items, and toys for boys aged 6-10 years and girls aged 6 months to 10 years. The group says you can drop the items off at the Pratt Street fire house. You can also make checks payable to Council of Neighborhoods.