Neighbors and friends of a Wading River family have raised over $10,000 to help them get back on their feet after their Michaels Lane home was gutted in a fire earlier this week.
The home of George and Jean Dalecki caught fire just after midnight Tuesday while the couple were inside, Wading River Fire Chief Mark Donnelly said. Their house, cars and personal belongings were all destroyed.
“No one needs a loss like this — especially not the Daleckis,” said neighbor Jerry McGrath. “I just came from the house and it’s just total devastation.”
Two dozen firefighters from Wading River were called to the scene, with the first volunteers arriving at the house four minutes after the call came in. They found the house engulfed in flames and two cars burning on the property, Mr. Donnelly said.
Both Mr. and Mrs. Dalecki had escaped from the burning house and were taken to Peconic Bay Medical Center to be checked out, fire officials said.
Volunteers had to dig a fire hydrant out of the snow to gain access; fire officials ask that any residents with hydrants on their property shovel a three-foot area around the hydrant.
Firefighters from Ridge, Riverhead, Manorville, and Rocky Point arrived on the scene to help Wading River battle the blaze. Riverhead ambulance volunteers also provided support while Sound Beach Fire Department provided ambulance coverage for the remainder of the Wading River district while firefighters extinguished the fire, Mr. Donnelly said.
No one was injured in the fire, he said. Its cause remains under investigation by Riverhead Town Fire Marshals.
Mr. and Mrs. Dalecki’s house is a total loss, friends said. The charred remains of the home was boarded up Friday morning.
“Although we are extremely grateful that no one was injured, Mr. and Mrs. Dalecki are currently homeless and have lost a lifetime of memories,” organizers of an online fundraiser wrote.
Since the fire, they’re wearing clothes borrowed from friends. A friend has loaned them a car and an empty home for them to live in.
The couple are active members of the community and volunteer at their local church and in the civic association. The family were also involved with the Polish fair and their children performed as dancers, Mr. McGrath said.
Mr. Dalecki is a stained glass artist that owns a business in Eastport — SeaTuck Stained Glass — while Ms. Dalecki is a teacher at Wading River Elementary school and was set to retire in June, Mr. McGrath said.
“[Jean] is a wonderful teacher,” he said. “She’s incredible, I don’t know how she does it. And George does marvelous work. He’s a real expert in what he does … they’re very well respected in the community.”
The online fundraiser was set up Thursday and has already raised $10,044 for the couple as of noon Friday. Supporters posted messages for the Daleckis, offering any help they can.
“My thoughts are with you guys,” wrote Ryan Madigan. “Please let me know if there is anything you guys need.”
“Many prayers to the best second grade teacher and her family!” another supporter wrote.
To find out more about the fundraiser and how you can help, visit the site here.