After a fire ripped through a whole block of rowhomes in Hampden, residents returned today to salvage what they could. Some people just barely made it out of the intense fire, which destroyed all 8 homes, spreading across the roofs.
"By the time I woke up, the second floor had smoke on it and when I got to the bottom floor, there was also smoke downstairs, so I feel very fortunate that I woke up and I feel very fortunate that I was home so I could get our dog out," resident Liz Stoner said.
Stoner was homesick and woke up to the smell of smoke, escaping with 8-month-old puppy Marnie. Her boyfriend Aaron McCormick was at work and rushed home to find the whole block in smoke.
"It's weird to think that 24 hours, it didn't look anything like this or it was just starting to go up in flames," McCormick said.
The couple, along with lots of neighbors, came back Wednesday to salvage what they could.
"Coming back today and seeing that everything is gone is really hard," Stoner said.
They grabbed everything from passports to framed pictures, like a reading card from McCormick's grandfather's library. He passed away last fall.
"For Christmas, my mom had those made for all the grandkids so that’s very special to all of us for sure," McCormick said.
But not everything made it; the third floor was destroyed and they aren't even allowed upstairs.
"One of the things on the third floor was a gift from him [this grandfather] that he gave to Liz," McCormick said. "Even though we don’t have those things anymore, at least we still have the memories of them so that will help."
"And everyone got out safe," Stoner added.
That's how this young couple, only homeowners for 6 months, is still able to smile.
"I think we installed a fence a month and a half ago," McCormick said.
"We were very proud of having our house all put together so this is a little hard," Stoner said.
They are also very thankful for all the help from the community.
"We had people coming up to us yesterday, offering us clothes, offering to give our dog treats, really offering anything," Stoner said.
"It was what you would hope you would do to someone if you saw them in a similar situation so it’s nice to see," McCormick said.
Other residents think the fire started at the end rowhome, which was getting a new rubber roof installed at the time. The fire department is still investigating.