story & photo
by Maren Schober
The Parish Hall at St. John’s Catholic Church, Uncasville, is filling up fast this morning, September 18, as friends and neighbors of Guy and Karen O’Brien come streaming in through the doors. About a dozen hardworking kitchen crew members are cooking the breakfast and dishing up pancakes, eggs, sausages, bacon and fruit as families come through the food line. Representative Tom Reynolds and Montville Mayor Joe Jaskiewicz are on hand offering their concern and support. Tickets are being sold at the door and many busineses in town are donating their services and goods at the raffle tables. What is going on?
It all stems from the tragedy that occurred Saturday night, August 14th, in Uncasville. This is the neighborhood in which I live and what happened is unforgettable.
Around 8:30 p.m. an explosion was heard immediately followed by black smoke filling the sky just a block away from our house. Neighbors streamed out of their houses as Montville and neighboring community fire trucks screamed up the street. Flames of fire could be seen for hours as the fire companies fought the battle. Owners of the homes on either side of the burning house grabbed their garden hoses and sprayed water on their houses to prevent the spread of the fire. Thank God there was no wind that night! Otherwise…
The fire started in the kitchen. “Only my husband, Guy, was home at the time,” Karen O’Brien tells me. “We have five children. None of them were in the house at the time. Guy called me at work and told me the house was on fire!”
When all was said and done the house was gone and the dog was missing. Guy and Karen are now without a home. “We are so thankful we can live with my son and family while we wait to build a new house on the same property as the fire. It is a wonderful neighborhood and we love our friends. We want to move back.”
It is heartwarming to see so many neighbors come together to help. Amy Lewis is the neighbor organizing today’s Pancake Breakfast to benefit the O’Brien Family. “I don know them at all, but I know we need to help Guy and Karen,” Amy tells me. “ I live around the corner from their house. It was frightening to watch the fire. Many neighbors are volunteering their aid for set up, clean up, cooks and servers. Volunteers are signing up to sell tickets and hang signs.”
A fund for the O’Briens is set up at Charter Oak Federal Credit Union. Donations may be made at any branch for the O’Brien’s Fire Donation Fund. Anyone needing more information may call Amy Lewis at 860.625.6035.