B y Jaime Thomas
When fire tore through a Hebron family’s home on Big Burch Hill Sunday evening, they escaped with their lives.
Unfortunately, they lost everything else.
The fire quickly spread through the entire mobile home, destroyed most of everything inside and even melted the refrigerator.
“When trailers get on fire, they burn through so fast,” said Ralph Getty, a spokesman for the Hebron Fire Department, adding that there was a lot of heat on one end of the blaze.
Victim Robert Shaw, whose wife wasn’t home, was able to get his two children and the family dog out of the fire. He had no shoes on his feet and lost his wallet, too.
“Everything. They went in today to look at it, and they lost everything. The kids have nothing. They need a home,” said Willy Shaw, the children’s grandmother. “It was a matter of minutes.”
Fortunately for the Shaw family, which has third child on the way, help immediately began pouring in.
Less than an hour after the fire was reported, a Red Cross representative drove up from Saratoga and offered vouchers for clothing and food to the family.
“That was really neat to see that in action,” said Bob Tressler, owner of Heritage Manor Realty, who heard about what happened from Robert Shaw, Sr., and took action.
Tressler has been in touch with various organizations, including the Foundation Church in Poultney, which he attends, and the Mettowee Valley Church in West Pawlet. The churches are offering cash donations, and Tressler said they’re ready to help with whatever needs to be done.
He said a number of his Facebook friends have offered to donate clothing and gift cards as well. Additionally, a fund called Friends of the Shaw Family has been set up at TD Bank in Granville.
“A lot of people have good used clothing but the best thing, quite honestly, is money. Virtually everyone wants to help, but they don’t know how. The easiest thing they can do is mail a check, whether it’s 10 bucks or 20 bucks, to the TD Bank account, and they’ll know it’s going directly to the family,” Tressler said.
However, those who do want to donate gently-used clothing, shoes, other essentials or toys can drop off the items either on Tressler’s porch or at the Mettowee Valley Church.
Another huge hole to fill is the family’s need for a new home. At this point, the four are bouncing between their in-laws’ houses.
Both Tressler and Shaw’s husband are actively searching for a replacement trailer to put on the property once the burned one is removed.
“They own the property. They’re young, and they have two kids and one on the way. Everybody’s still in so much shock,” Shaw said.
Tressler said anyone with an extra three-bedroom trailer, who is willing to donate it or sell it for a low price is encouraged to do so. Because Robert Shaw and his father are both contractors, they can do the necessary work to bring an old structure “up to snuff.”
Tressler, who has received help from the community in the past, believes such tragic events bring out the best in people.
“People talk about a downturn of society. But something like this happens, and it doesn’t matter how it happened or who it is, they want to do nothing but help,” he said.
Though Shaw said everyone was kind in their efforts to help her son and his family, she was especially grateful to Tressler.
“Right now it’s getting things organized and doing what we can. We’re just praying that we can get them in a home, and we’re doing what we can,” she said.
How to help:
Bob Tressler is currently collecting clothing (in good condition,) shoes and other items at his front porch, at 209 County Route 28 in Hebron, 2 and ½ miles south of Mandy Springs Nursery. The Shaw family has asked anyone dropping off donations to put their names on the bag, so they can personally thank them.
The Mettowee Valley Church in West Pawlet will be accepting donations for the family as well.
TD Bank in Granville has set up a fund called Friends of the Shaw Family. Those interested in donating to this fund can either drop off the money in person or send a check earmarked to that account. Additionally, Tressler said the family could use gift cards to Price Chopper, Target, Wal-Mart or Kmart and can send them or drop them off at his address.
Sizes for clothing donations are as follows:
The youngest, a 4-year-old boy, wears a 4T, and a children’s size 10 shoe.
The 7-year-old girl wears a children’s size 8 for clothes and a children’s 3 for shoes.
The mother, who is pregnant, is currently wearing extra-large stretch pants, large to extra-large shirts and size 8 ½ shoes.
The father wears size 32/30 pants, medium-sized shirts and size 9 ½ shoes.
Anyone who has questions or needs more information can contact 518-642-3664 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.