By Sarahanne Kent and Allie Miller
On March 11th, a devastating fire in Warwick, RI destroyed the homes of nearly 100 Rhode Island residents, including one of our very own Bryant University students, Jason Boulay and his family.
The fire broke out on the morning of Wednesday, March 11, 2015 at around 10 am at West Gate Condominiums, located off Quaker Lane in West Warwick, Rhode Island. All of the residents were able to make it out of the building safely, but only to watch the 3 story, 38 unit condo become utterly engulfed by flames and smoke, destroying everything they owned.
Chief firefighter, Edmund Armstrong, said that the fire’s catastrophic effects were partly due to a broken fire hydrant that prevented firefighters from immediately controlling the fast-moving flames. There will, of course, be an investigation to uncover how the fire started, but for those who lost all of their worldly possessions in this tragic event, it will hardly be consolation.
There are currently almost a hundred residents who have been displaced. Many will find a temporary home with family and friends, but others aren’t so lucky. Organizations such as the American Red Cross to the Christian Hill Community Church in West Warwick are assisting the residents with everything from supplies to places to stay for the night, and Texas Roadhouse on Quaker Lane is donating free meals to anyone affected by the fire. Even with the generous help of local groups, the victims of the fire have to completely rebuild their lives.
One of those devastated by this catastrophe is Bryant’s very own Jason Boulay. Jason is double majoring in Communication and Politics and Law. He is a war veteran, having served a tour in Afghanistan in 2002 with the Army National Guard. When the fire broke out, he was home catching up on sleep during spring break. His fiancé and 6 year old son were not home at the time of the fire.
Once he heard the alarms and smelled the smoke, he quickly escaped the burning building, having only time to grab a few belongings. Of the important things he was able to salvage were the wedding bands that will become a symbol of commitment following his wedding in May.
Since the fire, he and his family have had to live in a hotel room. Jason is incredibly grateful to the Bryant community. As a first semester senior, Jason feels incredibly lucky to have understanding and forgiving professors. He also has received support from the alumni community who have spread awareness for his story and offered to donate furniture to his new apartment.
Jason has received help and support from many wonderful organizations including Operation Stand Down RI which helps veterans in times of need. Jason is in the unimaginable process of starting over and rebuilding an entirely new life with his family. He hopes that it will turn into a blessing in disguise.
To help Jason and his family in this time of incredible need, please visit their GoFundMe account “Boulay Family Fire Fund.”