FARMINGTON — On Tuesday, a family of eight lost its home when a fire broke out in mid-morning. But two days later, Pam Boyker-Smith says the disaster has shined a light on what matters most: the support of family and friends, and the fact that no one was hurt.

“We’re OK. We’re all together, and that’s all that matters,” Smith said. “The outreach is the only thing that is making this bearable.”

Boyker-Smith and her husband, Christian Smith, had owned the Whittier Road mobile home for nine years. In that time, they had made it not only a home for their own four children, but also an adopted home for Boyker-Smith’s cousin and her child.

Around 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, fire crews from five towns responded to fight the blaze, but the home already was engulfed completely in flames. The home, everything in it and part of a nearby canvas garage were destroyed. The fire’s cause has been deemed undetermined, according to Farmington Fire Chief Terry Bell.

On Tuesday morning, 20 minutes after leaving for Cascade Brook School, where she works as an education technician in special education, Boyker-Smith received a call from her husband alerting her to the fire. She was in disbelief, but her mind instantly went to the image of her 14-year-old son, who was home from school that day.

“My heart instantly sunk and I didn’t know what to say or do. It just didn’t seem real. I just needed to get home. I just needed to see (my son’s) face and know that he was OK,” she said, choking up as she recalled the moment.

When she got back to the house, she saw that her son had made it out of the burning home unscathed and learned that he had jumped into action when he realized there was a fire.

He called 911 and, with the help of two hunters who were passing by, was able to save the family’s three dogs and a litter of nine puppies before the home became completely engulfed, Boyker-Smith said.

The 14-year-old expressed remorse that he was not able to save his grandmother’s ashes that were in the home, but Boyker-Smith said she and her husband are trying to relay to him just how proud they are of his actions.

“We have done everything we can to tell him how proud we are of him that he called 911,” she said.

Because of a two-week late payment on the home’s insurance policy, and a misunderstanding between the insurance agency and Boyker-Smith, the home was not insured at the time of the fire, she said.

For nine years, she had paid monthly for the home’s insurance. But with a lower summer income, Boyker-Smith was playing catch-up on bills when the start of the school year — and her normal pay cycle — kicked in last month, causing her to be two weeks late on the home insurance payment.

She had been searching for a replacement insurance policy, under the impression that she had 30 days before the insurance expired; however, after calling the agency Tuesday, she discovered that was not the case. The insurance had been terminated after she was late with the payment.

In the wake of the fire, the family was left with only what they wore out on their backs Tuesday morning. However, an outpouring of support and donations from relatives and community members over the last two days has kept the family going.

The American Red Cross has provided the family with three days’ worth of emergency food and housing, putting the family up at the Farmington Motel. Boyker-Smith’s colleagues at Cascade Brook School chipped in money to extend the family’s stay at the motel until Sunday, she said.

“I can’t express how amazing our employers are,” Boyker-Smith said. “Our family and friends have just rallied around us.”

A family friend who is selling a home in Farmington offered to let the family to stay at that house until they are able to put another mobile home on their Whittier Road property or until they find alternate housing.

A GoFundMe page was set up shortly after the fire, and donations of clothing, housewares and pet food have been pouring into the Farmington Pawnsters shop, which is owned by Boyker-Smith’s father and brother. Any monetary donations being made to the page will be going toward a down payment on a mobile home that the family hopes to be able to put on the land once the old home is cleared away.

Boyker-Smith said she is grateful to the various community members and companies who have offered to help her family. She said the disaster has helped remind her what it means to be a part of a tight-knit community.

“I’ve lived here my entire life, and sometimes you get so busy and you forget where you come from and you see all the bad things,” she said. “But when something like this happens, it reminds you of it what is to be from here and the community that is here.

On Nov. 5, her daughter’s dance studio, Dance Express, plans to host spaghetti supper fundraiser for the family, and another fundraiser is scheduled for Nov. 12 at the Elks lodge.

Lauren Abbate — 861-9252

[email protected]

Twitter: @Lauren_M_Abbate


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