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Waterbury community comes together for those who lost everything in 3-alarm apartment fire

New Haven

WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — The Waterbury community is coming together to help the victims of the 3-alarm apartment fire that displaced dozens and killed one on Monday.

The fire broke out Monday at a 12,000 square foot apartment building on Colley Street. Police say someone was working on their motor scooter when it caught fire, igniting the building and, eventually, the house next door. Demolition on both buildings has begun. The fire left one dead and displaced 35 people.

RELATED: Identity of person killed in 3-alarm Waterbury apartment fire released, dozens remain displaced

Phyllis Jensen returned to the scene of Monday’s fire Wednesday. Her uncle, Steve, lost the home he had next to the apartment building for 40 years. Phyllis looked on as demolition crews turned the fire damage into piles of wood, knocking down whatever was left of the structure.

“I feel bad for my uncle,” she said. “We had so many great memories in this house. My sister lived in this house. My sister’s kids grew up in this house. I was here all the time. It’s very sad.”

Members of the community are trying to turn this sad time into one of comfort and hope. While News 8 was at the scene, two neighbors donated cash to Uncle Steve to help him temporarily get back on his feet.

Across town, in a warehouse parking lot at 1669 Thomaston Avenue, Joseph Ochieng – an ER worker at Waterbury Hospital who also runs a non-profit called God Provides Interfaith Ministries – started a collection effort for victims of the fire. Since Monday, dozens of people have dropped by clothing, furniture, and toys to help those families.

“It’s a passion that I believe God impressed in my heart when I was still young to make a difference in one person’s life,” Joseph said.

Veronica Paulson donated men’s clothes: “Such a tragedy so I wanted to do something for the community.”

Another act of kindness — Uncle Steve hoping to salvage something from the fire. On top of one of the piles of charred wood — a saxophone from his childhood. A member of the demolition crew was able to retrieve it for him.

“I love Waterbury,” Veronica said. “I love how everyone’s coming together to help everyone and support everybody.”

The Red Cross is helping the 35 people displaced. Uncle Steve says he’s staying with family.

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