BROCKTON, Mass. — Six days after moving into their first house, a Brockton family woke up Saturday night to a raging fire in their new home.
The garage was engulfed in flames and quickly spreading into the kitchen and living room.
Hearing the alarms and smelling the smoke, Mandy Wooten and her husband Charles jumped out of bed, grabbed their five-year-old son Dominic and ran outside.
As Dominic cried, watching his new home burn, his dad tried reentering the house, desperately trying to save their cat. Charles was later treated for smoke inhalation.
“She kept saying, ‘The cat! The cat!’” Charles said. “I couldn’t go back in, because [the smoke] was too heavy. I tried to run back in. it just hit me. I tried to crawl in. I had to crawl right back out.”
The cat, rescued as a kitten nearly 11 years ago, was nicknamed Coke. His real name was Coca-cola, as he and his siblings were found in a soda vending machine at a gas station. Mandy fed him by a bottle as a baby.
“He was more than a cat,” Mandy Wooten said in tears. “It kills me. It kills me that’s how he died, because he was just so happy and friendly. And I had to see him in the end result. And I can’t get that image out of my head. It’s so heartbreaking.”
Investigators found the fire had been electrical, caused by faulty wiring in the garage.
The Wootens had been ecstatic to move into their new home. They had ripped up the carpets, repainted Dominic’s room in two shades of blue and spent hours doing yardwork before going to bed early Saturday night.
“It was our first home. We worked really hard to get this, to get here,” Mandy said. “It’s devastating, because we worked so hard for this house, and we loved it. And we were so happy, and we finally felt like we did it, we did what we wanted to do.”
Dominic loved the house, too. He liked going to bed in his own room and for the first time was sleeping through the night.
The Wootens lost almost nearly all their possessions in the fire 10 days after closing. Dominic’s blanket was saved, but most other precious items were damaged by heat or smoke.
The entire interior of the house has to be gutted and rebuilt, the Wootens said.
The couple combed through the ashes Monday, finally finding Mandy’s phone and recovering family pictures still wrapped up since moving.
While they are devastated by their loss, they know how lucky they are to still have each other.
“Lives can’t be replaced,” Mandy said. “And we’re alive, and we’re so grateful.”
Friends have started a fundraising account on GoFundMe to help the Wootens get back on their feet. By Monday night, they had raised $2,000. To donate, click here.
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