Last modified: Saturday, July 26, 2014
NORTHAMPTON — In the wake of the fire that destroyed the home of restaurateur Claudio Guerra, the Montessori School of Northampton, where his children are enrolled, is collecting cards, clothing, toys and gift cards for Guerra and his family.

“This is something we do for our families,” said head of school Susan Swift. “Our community is really wonderful at coming together and supporting.”

Donations can be dropped off at the school, 51 Bates St., between 8:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. For information on clothing sizes for the family, call the school’s main office at 586-4538, or send an email to Laura Frogameni, director of admissions, at info@northamptonmontessori.org.

Guerra’s home at 61 North Farms Road in Williamsburg — on the Northampton-Williamsburg line — was destroyed early Thursday by a blaze that firefighters suspect was started by a lightning strike during Wednesday evening’s thunderstorms.

No one was home at the time of the fire, and there were no injuries.

Guerra said Friday that he had just sat down with his children — ages 7, 4, and 2 — to tell them what happened to their home, and is now focusing on helping them adjust to the news. Guerra, his wife Maria, and the children had been visiting his father on the night of the fire. They are now staying in a hotel while they figure out their next steps.

He said he has insurance that will eventually help his family replace many things, but that for now, anything that anyone can donate to his children — new or used — would be helpful to them as they become situated.

“The kids are starting from scratch,” he said. “They don’t have anything, so it’s all good.”

Guerra is the owner of Spoleto, Pizzeria Paradiso and Mama Iguana’s restaurants downtown.

“It’s all anybody can talk about,” said Natasha Yakovlev, executive director of the Northampton Business Improvement District. “Claudio is an incredibly generous man.”

Evan Lash, bar manager at Mama Iguana’s, said Friday he noticed the previous night that the restaurant was a bit busier than usual on a Thursday, and suspects it was the community showing its support.

“Pretty much just coming to this restaurant really supports Claudio,” he said.

Guerra said his phone has been “ringing nonstop” with people offering to help him.

“The community has just been outstanding and so supportive,” he said. “It’s just one of those reminders of what a special place we live in.”

Gena Mangiaratti can be reached at gmangiaratti@gazettenet.com.