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Community rallies to aid victims of Amherst house fire

  • Officials from the Amherst Fire Department and the State Fire Marshals office gathered Tuesday at 141 Leverett Rd. in Amherst where a house fire the night before displaced a family of five.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Officials from the Amherst Fire Department and the State Fire Marshals office gathered Tuesday at 141 Leverett Rd. in Amherst where a house fire the night before displaced a family of five.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Officials from the Amherst Fire Department and the State Fire Marshals office on Tuesday look through the garage at 141 Leverett Rd. in Amherst where a house fire the night before displaced a family of five.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Officials from the Amherst Fire Department and the State Fire Marshals office on Tuesday look through the garage at 141 Leverett Rd. in Amherst where a house fire the night before displaced a family of five.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Officials from the Amherst Fire Department and the State Fire Marshals office gathered Tuesday at 141 Leverett Rd. in Amherst where a house fire the night before displaced a family of five.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Officials from the Amherst Fire Department and the State Fire Marshals office gathered Tuesday at 141 Leverett Rd. in Amherst where a house fire the night before displaced a family of five.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Officials from the Amherst Fire Department and the State Fire Marshals office gathered Tuesday at 141 Leverett Rd. in Amherst where a house fire the night before displaced a family of five.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Officials from the Amherst Fire Department and the State Fire Marshals office on Tuesday look through the garage at 141 Leverett Rd. in Amherst where a house fire the night before displaced a family of five.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Officials from the Amherst Fire Department and the State Fire Marshals office gathered Tuesday at 141 Leverett Rd. in Amherst where a house fire the night before displaced a family of five.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

When Svetlana Peshkov learned that staff at Wildwood School had been able to give Andrey a pair of snow pants, she was grateful.

Peshkov said the gift of snow pants was one example of the support the family has received since the fire, which began Monday evening in the garage of their home at 141 Leverett Road and quickly spread to the bedrooms above it.

“We thank all the people who have called and offered help,” Peshkov said. “It helps when people feel your sorrow and loss.”

In addition to causing heavy damage to the garage and the two vehicles inside it, the fire destroyed a significant portion of the family’s living space. The structure also sustained extensive water and smoke damage.

The Peshkovs were able to stay with friends and declined housing from the Red Cross.

Standing in the driveway outside the home early Tuesday afternoon, where extensive charring of the garage exterior was visible, Peshkov said she appreciated the work of everyone who assisted in extinguishing the fire.

Peshkov said Monday evening started peacefully. She and her children, including Gleb, 15, and Nikita, 17, both Amherst Regional High School students, were sitting on the couch while her husband cooked dinner.

She said that’s when they detected a strong, unpleasant smell, which they thought might be coming from the woodstove on the floor below. Peshkov went to check and discovered that the odor was coming from the garage. When she opened the door, smoke poured into the living area, she said, setting off alarms.

She said she and her husband quickly got the children out of the home.

Firefighters responded at 5:13 p.m. and had the fire under control at 6:29. They terminated the call at 10:33 p.m.

Svetlana Peshkov suffered a minor burn to her ear and was treated by paramedics at the scene.

Fire Capt. Larry Tebo and Firefighter J.P. Kennedy were both on scene again Tuesday, along with David Waskiewicz, the town’s building inspector, and State Trooper Joseph Gura of the state fire marshal’s office. The cause of the fire has not been determined, said Fire Chief Walter “Tim” Nelson.

“It will take a bit of time to find out exactly what started the fire,” Nelson said.

The Peshkovs are not sure when they will be able to recover their belongings from the home.

“They advised us not to touch anything because the investigation is going on,” Svetlana Peshkov said.

The Peshkovs came to the United States from Russia a decade ago and bought the split-level home in 2007. They chose to live in Amherst in part of because of the quality of the schools and the strong Russian program, they said.

“We like the town, we feel it’s a diverse community and we feel comfortable here,” said Svetlana Peshkov, who works as a tutor and interpreter for the Agawam public schools. Alexey Peshkov sells books.

Superintendent of Schools Maria Geryk praised the community’s support of the Peshkovs.

“Our staff and families are working together to offer immediate needs such as clothing, backpacks and school supplies,” Geryk said.

School staff, she said, partner with agencies such as Family Outreach of Amherst, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Hampshire County and the Red Cross of Pioneer Valley to provide services.

Mary Nathan, director of disaster services for the Red Cross of Pioneer Valley, said the Peshkovs were given food, clothing and toiletries. They also received referrals to agencies that can help with long-term recovery.

The couple said they have also received offers of help from friends in Westfield and West Springfield who learned about the fire through text messages from Gleb and Nikita.

“Thank you to all the people who took part in our situation,” Svetlana Peshkov said.

Related

Amherst family displaced in Leverett Road house fire

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

AMHERST — A family of five was displaced by a fire that caused heavy damage to most of their Leverett Road home Monday evening. Fire Chief Walter “Tim” Nelson said firefighters were dispatched around 5:13 p.m. to 141 Leverett Road. He said the garage was engulfed in flames when they got there and the fire had already spread to the … 0

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