WESTFORD -- Firefighters and residents are coming together, going shopping, and stepping up to help a family of five that was left with nothing but the clothes on their backs after a three-alarm fire that struck five days before Christmas.
They could still use a lot more assistance to help the family of Jason and Connie Daily, their 17-year-old son, and 9- and 12-year-old daughters.
"They have nothing," said Westford Fire Lt. Shawn Girard. "They've got the clothes on their backs."
The fire in the Dailys' home at 40 Beaver Brook Road had already been burning for quite a while when firefighters were alerted to it about 12:45 p.m. Friday, so firefighters were forced to fight the blaze from outside.
No one was in the home when the fire started. No one was injured, but the home and its contents were a total loss.
Fire Prevention Lt. Donald Parsons said the cause was accidental, and that the fire appears to have been started by an issue with the home's dryer or dryer vent.
After extinguishing the blaze, firefighters were cleaning and putting their equipment away on Friday evening when they began talking about trying to do something to help the family.
"Any time of year it's bad, but at Christmas it's even worse, so we wanted to do something to help them out," Girard said. "Even before we put something on Facebook people were saying they wanted to help."
Firefighters made a post on the Westford Fire Department Facebook page at 6:35 p.m. Exactly 24 hours later, on Saturday evening, that post had been shared 425 times.
"We've had a steady flow all day today of people dropping stuff off," Girard said.
Firefighters have already set up a fund to benefit the family at Northern Bank and Trust, 45 Main St., Westford. Anyone wishing to contribute should make out a check payable to "the Daily Family," according to firefighters.
Firefighters are also accepting donations of clothing and gift cards, which can be dropped off at any of the town's fire stations. Firefighters ask residents to visit the center fire station at 51 Main St. if no one is at other stations when residents stop by.
The American Red Cross of Eastern Massachusetts is putting the family up in a local hotel for now, according to Girard. The Toys for Tots program has offered to donate toys for the children, according to a neighbor, Jack Leeber.
Gift cards and cash will help pay for everything else the family needs as they rebuild their lives this holiday season.
If you would prefer to donate clothing, you can find the family's clothing sizes posted on the Westford Fire Department's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/wfd315.
You can also contribute financially by visiting www.gofundme/5v3koo.
Follow Robert Mills on Twitter and Tout @Robert_Mills.