112719 NST fire 1

Firefighters respond to a house fire along Tom Wheeler Road on Nov. 27. The blaze killed a dog and two cats, as well as displacing three adults and three children. Courtesy North Stonington Volunteer Fire Department

NORTH STONINGTON — A fundraising effort to aid a family who lost their pets, home, and numerous belongings in a house fire has led to more than $5,600 in donations so far.

Barbara Miner, listed in town property records as the owner of the home, David and Melissa Lee, and the couple's three children were displaced Wednesday night when a fire erupted in the basement of their home at 8 Tom Wheeler Road at about 9:25 p.m. Officials said the blaze caused the deaths of a dog and two cats, and a volunteer North Stonington firefighter was treated for heat exhaustion at the scene.

Friends and family have started a page on the GoFundMe site seeking donations to help the family. As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, the effort had generated $5,644 toward a goal of $10,000.

"Words can not describe how grateful the family is," page organizer Tiffany Lee said in an update on Tuesday. "As of right now the family will be staying in a hotel for a month (at least). Thankfully they will have a kitchenette so they can do some cooking."

North Stonington firefighters and mutual aid partners including the Old Mystic and Ashaway departments were called to the home for reports of smoke showing from a basement area. When the first firefighters arrived, they saw an active fire in the basement and requested a tanker and first alarm response.

Charles Steinhart, chief of the North Stonington Volunteer Fire Company, reported that the blaze spread into a wall and worked its way to the first floor of the house. The fire was brought under control in about 30 minutes and firefighters were on scene until about 11:45 p.m. A message left Tuesday seeking further comment was not returned.

The American Red Cross provided kits with supplies for some of the family's immediate needs.

Lee said that donors could visit the GoFundMe page at shorturl.at/sIOP9. People who wish to donate in person can deliver gift cards to Linda Costanza, a social worker with North Stonington Public Schools, Lee said.

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