WATERVILLE — A family of four burned out of a rented Water Street home in the city’s South End has decided to move back to South Carolina, where they have an extended family.

Jody Brunson, 52, said she and her daughter, Marybeth, 29, and Marybeth’s children, Jocelin 8, and Booker, 2, stayed at the Fireside Inn for a few days after the Jan. 3-4 fire, thanks to the American Red Cross, then moved on Wednesday to a place on College Avenue, which they planned to rent for about a week.

Marybeth Brunson planned to work her final shifts as a home health aide for Assistance Plus, and then the Brunsons would tie up loose ends in Maine before heading south, Jody Brunson said.

The Brunsons lost all their belongings in the fire, which was caused by an electrical malfunction in the attic at their rented house at 144 Water St.

Meanwhile, the community has reached out to the family in ways the Brunsons said they never imagined, donating clothes, money and other necessities and offering furniture.

“This community has been awesome to us,” Jody Brunson said. “They are unbelievable. We so appreciate everything they have done for us. They’ve been wonderful.”

She said two women visited the family and just started helping them with money and whatever else they needed.

“One’s name is Hope and the other one is Faith,” Jody said of the good Samaritans.

The Brunson family had been struggling since moving to Waterville in September to be closer to Jody’s mother, who has Alzheimer’s disease and dementia and is in a rehabilitation center in Bangor. Thirty days after they moved into the house on Water Street, Marybeth’s husband abandoned the family, they said.

Jody Brunson, who is disabled, was devastated after the fire, as she thought they had lost not only their belongings, but also her dead sister’s ashes. She and her sister, who died of a heart attack at 50, were close, and her sister had been her pillar of strength. She said she went into the ruins of the house and found the ashes, however.

“I’ve been reunited with my sister,” Jody said. “I had a special container with her ashes hidden, and nobody had found it. It was safely tucked away. It didn’t get ruined at all.”

The Brunsons were able to rescue their pets in the fire — a 9-month-old German shepherd, Chloe; a 3-year-old Chihuahua, Pixie; a 1-year-old cat, Ace; and 3-year-old cockatiel, Stella.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17


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