Michelle Gallagher is grateful that her family is safe and doing well after a devastating two-alarm fire ripped through their three-story Woodhaven home on Saturday, Jan. 14.
“It’s difficult but we are glad that we’re alive and that’s what we are focusing on,” Gallagher said.
On Jan. 14 at around 1 a.m. firefighters arrived at the house, located at 88-25 90th St., where the fire had started on the first floor and was under control by 2 a.m. There were no reported injuries, according to reports.
When speaking with QNS, Gallagher recalled the moment she was awakened by the smoke alarms going off in her home.
“When I got up from the bed, I dropped my phone and ran when I smelled smoke and then saw it,” Gallagher said. “I grabbed my dog and called for Karen, my late stepfather’s sister, who lived on the second floor. I was having trouble breathing from the smoke. When I went to open the front door, either the wind chimes or the front light melted in front of me and fell down. It wasn’t quite hitting me until I got outside, went down the steps and turned around, and said, ‘oh my God, it’s really on fire.’”
According to Gallagher, the fire had spread to the third floor. The house was gutted and is now boarded up. When Gallagher spoke to the FDNY fire marshal a few days ago, she was told that the cause of the fire was electrical and that it had started outside of the house.
Gallagher said she’s thankful that her two kids weren’t home at the time of the incident. Following the fire, the family returned to the house to retrieve a few items and were searching for their beloved cat named Luna.
“If anyone happens to see my cat, please let me know. I know it’s a silly hope, but she’s a black cat with green eyes and her name and address are on her collar,” Gallagher said.
Gallagher noted the community’s generosity in helping to donate items such as clothes, blankets and toiletries. A GoFundMe campaign was created by her boss, Noor Saab, an attorney, for whom she has been working for as a paralegal for the past 10 years.
“When I got the call from her Saturday morning, I said let’s try to help her because she’s a single mom with two kids and her mother just passed from cancer,” Noor said. “It was just heartbreaking. I saw the video on YouTube and you could hear her screaming. It shook me up.”
To date, the GoFundMe campaign has raised more than $10,000. The goal, Saab says, is to raise a total of $50,000. Gallagher said she will use the money to continue making mortgage payments on the house that has been in the family for four generations.
“My relatives have grown up here. All of us have lived in this house. It’s sort of like a safe haven,” Gallagher said. “The house is still in my mom’s name and we want to rebuild it in the future — that is the hope.”
In the meantime, Gallagher is staying at a hotel for a month while her family is trying to find her a new home.
“People have been wonderful and we have been very blessed,” Gallagher said. “I’m so glad that we’re OK.”