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Donations To Fire Victims To Benefit Many In Bridgeport

Workers use an excavator to tear down what remains of the apartment complex at 215 Charles St.
Workers use an excavator to tear down what remains of the apartment complex at 215 Charles St. Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- The outpouring of generosity from residents in response to the needs of families affected by the Charles Street and Frenchtown Road fires to donate clothing and furnishings will be seen by all when the items are distributed to residents in need across the city Saturday.

Gina Malheiro, deputy chief administrative officer and special projects/events coordinator for the City of Bridgeport said aid workers were inundated with generous donations to help those left homeless after the devastating New Year’s Eve fire at a Charles Street apartment-condo complex.

In fact, they had so many items donated, the city will have a citywide community outreach distribution of the remaining items from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Shipyard, 837 Seaview Ave.

Leo Koutikas, owner of New Colony II Diner next to the complex, collected clothes, toys, food and other supplies all weekend. He sent eight packed box trucks full of donations to Bridgeport Rescue Mission’s Connecticut Avenue warehouse for distribution to affected families.

“We knew a lot of those people. They used to come in here,” Koutikas said. “I thought it was the right thing to do.”

Stratford EMS staffers, who were on standby during the fire, gathered donations from townspeople hoping to replace holiday gifts for the children affected, as well as clothing and food, said director Michael Loiz.

In just two hours, the donations filled an entire ambulance and a smaller paramedical SUV that took the items to the Red Cross.

Stratford EMS sent another two full ambulances and an SUV filled with donations to Stratford’s Sterling House for distribution.

“We wanted to help,” Loiz said. “These people lost everything.”

It was just after 6 a.m. New Year’s Eve when residents and neighbors heard the fire alarms going off and saw smoke billowing from the garage under the building at 215 Charles St. One man was rescued from an upper apartment shortly after emergency personnel arrived, but there were no casualties.

A 3-year-old girl died in a massive fire in her Bridgeport condo on Frenchtown Road despite efforts by her neighbors and firefighters to save her.

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