NORWALK, Conn. -- The city of Norwalk is working to help the more than 100 people who were left homeless right before the holidays after a massive fire at a condominium complex on Richards Avenue on Monday night.
A total of 54 units were deemed uninhabitable after a fire ripped through the StoneWood Condominium Complex at 100 Richards Ave. The fire began at around 4:30 p.m. and drew firefighters from several surrounding towns to battle the large blaze. While there were no major injuries reported, all the residents of the complex have been displaced.
Officials said this is the largest structure fire with the most number of residents displaced in over 20 years.
As with other fires, the city is providing assistance to victims through the Fire Department Emergency Management. The assistance includes gift cards as well as information and community referrals. The American Red Cross will also provide financial assistance to meet the immediate needs of residents.
"We've received calls and emails offering assistance and the outpouring of support and generosity has been amazing," said Michele DeLuca of the Office of Emergency Management. "We are reaching out to the residents to offer support and assistance as they begin their recovery. The greatest need is donations to the NFD Fire Victims Fund or gift cards so they can purchase what they need when they are ready for it."
The city is also working to access Small Business Administration assistance, which can provide assistance after major fires, and can be another resource for displaced residents.
Officials will meet with the residents on Saturday to offer support and provide gifts cards right before the holidays. The residents will also be able to access Red Cross assistance and receive comfort and hygiene kits and other supplies. Additional referrals and information will be provided as they move forward in their recovery.
The mayor and Common Council will be making a donation to support residents. At Tuesday night's Common Council meeting, Mayor Harry Rilling spoke about the fire and encouraged residents to also donate if they were able. Rilling acknowledged that although the loss of property and homes was tragic and the residents face a long road to recovery, no residents or firefighters were killed or injured in the fire.
"We hope that our donation will encourage others to do the same and help those families displaced by the fire during this holiday season," said Common Council President John Kydes.
Several businesses have come forward to help coordinate donations or collect and distribute items. Forever Sweet Bakery the Norwalk Animal Hospital on Connecticut Avenue have bee collecting items, and Ripka's Café at Calf Pasture Beach will be donating 50 percent of sales over the coming weekend. NBC Sports is donating new items to residents.
To make a donation, make checks payable to Norwalk Fire- Fire Victims Fund. Checks or gift cards in any amount can be mailed or dropped off to the Norwalk Fire Department at 121 Connecticut Ave.
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