By Connor Linskey
The Town of Montgomery community continues to aid the Holmes and Rizzo families after they were left without shelter following a house fire the day after Christmas.
At 2:32 a.m. on Dec. 26 local fire departments were dispatched to a house on fire at 118 Plains Road in the Village of Walden. When the fire departments arrived at the scene, they found heavy fire showing from the front of a two-story two-family home.
Immediately following the fire, the Walden Fire Department reported that no injuries were reported to any civilians or firefighters. However the Holmes family noted that they were battered and bruised after escaping the fire.
The fire left Scott and Loretta Rizzo as well as their daughter Faith, a senior at Valley Central High School (VCHS), without a home. Frankie and Sherri Holmes as well as their daughter Jasmine and dog River also escaped from the fire. Jasmine is a recent graduate of VCHS and works at Astoria Hudson in the Village of Montgomery. In addition to losing their homes, both families lost all their possessions.
Following the fire, both families initially stayed at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Montgomery. After staying there for two nights, the Rizzo family moved to the Homewood Suites hotel in New Windsor. The new hotel has more space as well as a kitchen, which allows the family to cook their meals as opposed to ordering their food.
The Town of Montgomery Community Response Team initially picked up the hotel expenses for both the Holmes and Rizzo families. Scott Rizzo’s insurance is now paying for his family’s stay at the Homewood Suites hotel.
Both families have felt a wealth of support from the Town of Montgomery community after the tragedy. People have donated clothes, toiletries as well as food to both families.
“We are so grateful and so thankful for everybody’s assistance since the fire,” Sherri Holmes said. “It’s been amazing.”
She added that the family is outgrowing their hotel room because of all the donations. Sherri noted that the family would still appreciate monetary donations.
Scott Rizzo has also felt support from his community. His family has also received lots of clothes, food and money in relief of the fire.
“It’s been difficult,” he said in regards to coping with the fire. “But with the amount of love and support we’ve been getting from people, from our church family, from our direct family and even from people that we don’t even know. It’s really been a comfort and support for us emotionally, mentally and it’s helped us regain some sort of hope that this is gonna be better in the end.”
Scott noted that his family is all set in regards to donations following tremendous support. However, he added that they would still accept donations. Scott said that he is planning on purchasing a house for his family.
Those interested in giving monetary donations to the Holmes and Rizzo families can donate to the Town of Montgomery Community Response Team. As of Monday afternoon $81,053 had been donated. Both families appreciate all the contributions that have been made.
“You really see the good in people when somebody goes through something devastating,” said Scott Rizzo. “We’re very thankful.”