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Opinion
Our Opinion

Our Opinion: In the dark smoke of a Thanksgiving fire, a silver lining of community support

The fire that destroyed an Adams residence and left five people homeless on Thanksgiving reminds us that hardship knows no holiday. Yet from the clouds of smoke that darkened Richmond Street last week, a silver lining extended to remind us of something else: Here in the Berkshires, we’re ready, willing and able to help our neighbors in need no matter what day it is.

The duplex razed in Thursday morning’s fire was owned by Paul and Vanessa Mazzantini, who lived there with their 3-month-old daughter. Another couple lived in the duplex’s second unit. Thankfully, all occupants escaped uninjured, but our thoughts are with these folks whose holiday season has been completely upended. That’s tough on anyone, but for a young family with a 3-month-old, it’s especially heartbreaking — which makes the outpouring of community support all the more critical.

Online fundraising efforts that sprung up soon after the fire have raised thousands of dollars for the Mazzantinis and their tenants to help them replace what they’ve lost and start anew. A local restaurant offered free pizza to the impacted residents. Community members stepped up with baby supplies for the Mazzantini’s 3-month-old; they’ve given so much that a neighboring Richmond Street household has converted their dining room into a sort of staging ground for donations to the family.

The aftermath of a devastating fire that stole the joy from a young family’s holiday might seem an odd time to be thankful. Still, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, we are deeply thankful that no one was hurt. We are similarly thankful for the crews of five local fire departments: Adams, Cheshire, Dalton North Adams and Savoy. On a day when many others were enjoying a day off, these firefighters stood vigilant and rushed toward danger to knock down a fire before it could threaten other homes. Last but not least, we are thankful for those who remind us not just what a community is but what a true community does: On your neighbors’ worst day, open your hearts and extend your hands. The Adams community has done that, and we hope it helps those impacted by this fire regain a sense of normalcy as soon as possible.

For the Mazzantini’s 3-month-old daughter, her first Thanksgiving was a bumpy one. When she grows up, though, she won’t remember the fire that occurred in her infancy. What she will remember is how her hometown community embraced her family in a time of trouble.

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