• Lowell community mourns those lost in deadly blaze, plans vigil


    LOWELL, Mass. (MyFoxBoston.com) --While the investigation continues into the deadly fire that happened in Lowell earlier this week, dozens of people who lost everything are in desperate need of help. And the Lowell community is answering the call.

    The city's community and especially those close to the seven victims who died in the blaze are still searching for answers as they mourn.

    "They feeling so depressed to see this happen. Everybody knows each other. So do I. I'm depressed," neighbor Oeun Chin said.

    Officials are still unsure of the cause of the deadly fire on Branch Street, but FOX 25 has confirmed that Lowell firefighters responded to the same multi-use building for a report of fireworks in a hallway on July 3, just seven days before the major 3-alarm blaze.

    "We found that a 10-year-old child had lit off a firecracker in the hallway. It was a minor thing. There was no fire but the smoke tripped the smoke detector in the hallway. We reset the system, had a talk with his parents and that was kinda the end of it," Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Winward said.

    Investigators are working to confirm whether the fire alarms in the building were working and if a stash of fireworks reportedly on the property played a role in Thursday's fire.

    SimplexGrinnell of Norwood told the Boston Herald they have performed inspections on the building's fire prevention system and are cooperating with officials. And residents had told FOX 25 that when the fire broke out, they heard what sounded like fireworks exploding.

    Winward wouldn't comment on that, but did say illegal fireworks are a problem in the city.

    "Seems like lately a lot of people are using fireworks on their backyard and we're trying to get the message out that it's very dangerous," he said.

    The Lowell community continues to rally behind the surviving families that were displaced. The Wish Project says it's received more than four tons of clothing and furniture donations since Friday.

    Kristen Ross-Sitcawich works with both The Wish Project and non-profit, Community Teamwork Inc. She says there are nine families, including 50 people, among those displaced and Red Cross services end on Monday.

    "We'll be extending their motel stays and working with these families very closely to find out exactly what resources are the best ones for them," Ross-Sitcawich said.

    Real estate agency Laer Realty is donating their services to help the families find housing.

    "This is our lives, these are our communities, these are our brothers, sisters, family members, so it's just natural to want to help out," Stacey Alcorn of Laer Realty said.

    The community is preparing for a vigil and fundraiser at the Glory Buddhist Temple on Cambridge Street Sunday at 5:30 p.m. and hundreds are expected to attend. An organizer at the temple also says the bodies of five of the victims will be taken there next week where friends and family will pray over them before they are buried.

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