BOWDOINHAM — A family that lost its home last week in a fire sparked by lightning has seen an outpouring of help from the community.

At the urging of family members, Chris Allyn said he set up a GoFundMe page, despite his initial reluctance.

“Everyone just insisted that I needed to have a way that people can help us out, so I set one up,” he said.

Allyn lived at 447 Ridge Road with his wife Jenn, his 10-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter. On June 30, the Allyns woke to find their garage on fire. The blaze quickly spread to the kitchen and the rest of the house. The fire department was called shortly before 4:30 a.m. and spent about an hour knocking the flames down. The home was unstable after the fire, and the remnants were demolished.

“We’re still kind of a big wandering mess,” Allyn said Friday. “We’re just sort of replacing things as we need them — kids stuff. The school was a huge help. They had a whole bunch of stuff people donated to the school, and they invited the kids down to get clothes.”

The family had insurance and is still working with its provider on what to do next. But that money is slow to come and doesn’t cover the cost of Allyn’s pickup truck that was damaged in the fire.

He said it’s surprising how expensive everyday items are. A trip to Walmart for a week’s worth of clothes and some basic toiletries quickly reached $500. The family planned to hit up yard sales over the weekend.

An American Red Cross volunteer has assisted the Allyns, and the organization has paid for the family to stay in the Residence Inn in Bath. Chris Allyn is employed by Bath Iron Works and said he’d be returning to work this week.

The hotel room is like a small apartment, he said, and it’s been nice to be able to bring back groceries and cook meals in the kitchen there.

The children attend Bowdoinham Community School, which took in donated gift cards for food and gas to give to the family. The school already got the kids new backpacks and school supplies and has opened its library to the kids over the summer.

Allyn said his son was attending the Bowdoin Summer Day Camp at Bowdoin College for a week. After the fire, both children were given scholarships to attend all summer.

“It’s all about keeping the kids entertained at this point and happy and not to feel so displaced,” he said. “They’re being awesome little troupers about everything.”

Everyone just wants to go home and have everything the way it was, “but they know it’s going to be a fresh start,” he said.

To donate to the Allyn family’s fire fund, visit gf.me/u/txx5pj. The account has a $5,000 goal and had raised $670 as of Monday afternoon.

 

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