‘It Means Everything to Us': Donations Come in for New Year's Eve Bridgeport Fire Victims

Six days after a fire ripped through a Bridgeport condo complex on New Year’s Eve, dozens of displaced families are moving forward thanks to the community’s generosity.

“We lost everything we had, even the car,” Candie Lewonczyk said. “So to get anything at this point, it’s a lot, it means everything to us.”

Since the fire destroyed her home, Lewonczyk, her fiancé and two boys have been staying with her parents in Stratford.

“It’s been a crazy week to say the least,” she said. “Thank God they have no idea, they’re too young. They’re two and one, so they just think we’re sleeping at grandma and grandpa’s house.”

The city of Bridgeport is storing the thousands of donations that have come in for the Charles St. fire victims at multiple locations.

“We know this community is very generous,” said Donna Romano, the events manager at the Bridgeport Rescue Mission.

Volunteers at the Bridgeport Rescue Mission donation center were busy Wednesday afternoon sorting clothes, coats and toys.

“The city reached out to us on Saturday and asked us if we could store and accept some of the surplus items that have been coming from the community,” Romano said, “and we were very happy to do so.”

Most of the items Lewonczyk collected on a cart at another one of the donation storage sites Wednesday are for her two toddlers.

“Just some toys, blankets, clothes," she said, "just to keep the kids happy."

Lewonczyk said she hopes to find a new apartment and replace some of the larger items like the furniture she lost in the next few weeks.

For now, she’s just overwhelmed by the outpouring of support.

“This city, I can’t believe how much they came together to help all of us and we can’t thank anyone enough and it’s been so much, so much,” she said.

Crews have torn down the rest of what used to be a 36-unit condo complex. Firefighters arrived in the morning on New Year’s Even to find heavy flames in the garage before they spread throughout the building.

Investigators are still trying to determine the cause.

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