Conn. town rallies behind former firefighter whose home burned

A fundraiser for former Firefighter Brett D'Appollonio and his family raised more than $10,000 in four hours

Zach Murdock
The Hartford Courant

FARMINGTON, Conn. — Dozens of friends, neighbors and complete strangers are pulling together this weekend to support the family of a former firefighter whose home burned Thursday afternoon, leaving the family with next to nothing to start the New Year.

Former Farmington Firefighter Brett D’Appollonio, his wife Lindsey, their two young children and their pets were not physically hurt in the fire, but it effectively destroyed their Whispering Rod Road home and many of their belongings, neighbors said.

Now the Farmington Fire Department and Unionville neighbors are arranging a series of fundraisers and donation drives to help the family, including a GoFundMe page that beat its $10,000 donation goal in less than four hours Friday afternoon.

“While they count themselves lucky, the future is daunting,” family friend Dara Willenbrock Macchi wrote on the GoFundMe page. “At the moment they are operating in disbelief and numbness but the harsh reality of what has been lost will soon sink in. Their days ahead will be filled with a sense of overwhelming loss.”

The fire erupted right at 2 p.m. Thursday and a half-dozen fire units from the Farmington firehouses immediately descended on the home. The fire was under control within an hour, but the damage was done and photos from the scene showed half of the home charred with smoke pouring out of the structure.

Neighbor Janet Culver said she first saw flames and then spotted Brett D’Appollonio run out with the family dogs while other neighbors gathered beside him as the house burned. She did not know whether any of the rest of the family was home at the time of the fire.

“What a horrible thing, watching this man watch his house burn down,” she said.

That evening, Culver began collecting donations for the family and their two young children, an 8-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son. She said they’ve received generous donations of clothing, but it’s become a bit overwhelming as the family does not have anywhere to put them, so organizers are working on a temporary storage situation.

“The house is completely boarded up,” Culver said.

Culver and Macchi are encouraging people to donate gift cards so the family can go to the grocery store and purchase whatever else they may immediately need.

More than 100 people donated to the GoFundMe page in a matter of hours, easily pushing it past its goal Friday afternoon, while dozens reached out through the Unvionville community Facebook page to arrange clothing and gift card drop-off locations.

“It’s very sad,” Culver said. “But this is the type of community we are here in Unionville. We open our doors, open our hearts, and help.”

The town’s three fire stations plan to hold a joint fundraiser in the coming weeks and expect to release details soon, officials said.

Officials have not released any information about the cause of the fire but remained on the scene into late Thursday. Attempts to reach the Farmington Fire Marshal’s Office on Friday were unsuccessful.

Staff writer Amanda Blanco contributed to this report.


©2020 The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.)


Below is a GoFundMe that was set up to support the D’Appollonio family, whose house was destroyed by a fire yesterday....

Posted by Farmington Fire Department on Friday, January 3, 2020


McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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