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Community rallies around Wallingford family affected by house fire

Community rallies around Wallingford family affected by house fire

reporter photo

WALLINGFORD — While the fire marshal is investigating the cause of Sunday’s house fire on North Elm Street, community members are organizing donations for the family.

The fire at 427 N. Elm. St. was reported around 3:50 p.m. It appears to have started in the attached garage of the raised ranch and quickly consumed the south end of the house.

No residents were injured, however, neighbors reported a cat died in the blaze.

Two vehicles were destroyed, one in the driveway and one in the garage. The make and model of the vehicles wasn’t immediately available.

Smoke damage affected the north end of the house that was spared from the flames, officials said.

Property records show the house, located near Maplewood Avenue, belongs to Jose L. Torres. Torres and two of his children, Jayden Torres and Valerie Torres, were residing in the home and were not injured.

Torres’ wife, Katrina Ann Torres, died in May at age 51 after an illness, according to her obituary. Katrina Torres taught at Rock Hill Elementary School for 26 years.

News of the house fire spread through social media, and family and friends soon organized a clothing donation drive and a GoFundMe page.

Diane Mello set up a clothing donation box on the back stairs of her dance studio at 39 Fair St. 

Mello said Monday that Valerie Torres has danced at her studio “since she was little.”

“I found out late (Sunday) night,” Mello said.

Donations by Monday afternoon included men’s pants, lots of girls’ and women’s clothing and some boys’ shoes.

“People were very generous with clothing,” Mello said, “and I thought that was so nice.”

She has attempted to contact the Torres family to let them know about the clothing donations. 

“I haven’t heard anything more,” she said. “I’m sure they’re quite overwhelmed.”

Any monetary donations and gift cards can be dropped in the front door mail slot of the dance studio.

Smoke was visible from Celebrate Wallingford, the annual downtown street festival, which draws thousands of visitors.

Two firefighters, one career and one volunteer, were hospitalized at MidState Medical Center for heat-related injuries, Battalion Chief Edward Butkus said Monday.

One had been released Sunday evening, Battalion Chief Jim Duffy said on Sunday.

Butkus said no further information on the firefighters’ condition was available. He added that the Red Cross assisted the Torres family, since the house is “uninhabitable.”


Twitter: @LCTakores