On the morning of March 29, the neighbors of Belmont Greene in Ashburn woke up to catastrophe: a blazing fire raged on Nashua Street. The fire left three houses burned to the ground-with another severely damaged–and 11 people without homes. Devastatingly, one person died and two others were injured. Following the incident, the Belmont Greene community quickly rallied to offer support and neighborly love to the victims.
The fire started just before 1:30 a.m. due to the improper discarding of smoking materials and spread rapidly, fueled by windy weather conditions. ”I looked outside and saw massive flames.” Kristina Hart, who lives a few houses down from the epicenter of the fire, said.
The Ashburn Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department quickly responded to the fire. Unfortunately, they were not able to completely extinguish the flames before three homes were destroyed.
“There are no words to describe the complete helplessness one feels as you stand in the street outside your home watching fire spread from one house to another, on to your own, realizing there is nothing you can do to stop it.” Rebekah Atkinson, a neighbor, said, describing how she felt while watching the fire.
The families were unable to retrieve few, if any, of their belongings from the fire since the destruction left nothing salvageable in its wake. Luckily, the Ashburn people recognized this, and swiftly stepped in to help.
Multiple online GoFundMe’s were set up to raise money for the families who lost their homes. As of May 19, over $65,000 has been raised through GoFundMe alone.
Donations were also made in-person via gift certificates. Approximately $17,000 worth of gift cards was gathered in the home of neighbor Julie Nelson, who proactively sent out the call for donations. “It is heartbreaking to know our neighborhood has suffered such a loss but we will be there to help them rebuild.” Julie wrote in a social media post.
In addition to just financial aid, countless people reached out to the victims with warm words, thoughts, and prayers.
Appreciation from the victims
The victims of the fire were flooded with gratitude from the community’s response. One family, the Vourdas, had moved to Virginia from Greece, which amplified the devastation of losing their home in the fire.
“Coming from overseas with a different culture, we felt so lost, so alone and desperate when we saw our “American dream” catching fire, as we didn’t know what would happen next.” Serafaim Vourdas wrote.
With no family in the US, the Vourdas were fortunately able to find another support system in the Belmont Greene Community.
“We are so overwhelmed from your kindness, generosity, love and support you all are showing us since [the fire].” Vourdas said, “You gave so much to us, that the tears we cried from your actions were more than the tears we cried when the disaster happened.”
While the community has responded generously, donations are still being accepted. Contributions can be given online through various GoFundMe’s, linked here, as well as to the Belmont Greene Disaster Relief Fund.
Article by Jillian Wallner