More than a year after Fitchburg explosion, funds raised to be distributed to neighbors

More than a year after Fitchburg explosion, funds raised to be distributed to neighbors

About a dozen neighbors affected by an August 2016 home explosion in Fitchburg met Wednesday night to determine how to disperse around $8,000 in funds donated to help those affected, more than a year after the massive blast rocked the neighborhood.

Alders Julia Arata-Fratta, Dan Bahr and Dorothy Krause were also present at the meeting, held at the Fitchburg Public Library.

“I think we wanted to let the dust settle before we went forward” on distributing the money, Bahr said. “This is a good opportunity for citizens to come together and support one another and to use that money for beneficial purposes.”

Dylan Dinkins, who lives diagonally across from the explosion site, said he wasn’t aware the funds were available until he was told about the meeting. He said the recovery process lasted long after the explosion damaged his home.

“We lost all our windows, (they) blew out, (there was) damage to our roof,” Dinkins said. “The glass shattered in, so we got new carpet, our furniture was destroyed.”

Despite having good homeowners’ insurance, Dinkins, a father of two, still had to pay a $500 deductible and other costs out of pocket.

“Insurance is kind of finicky with stuff, so they were going to pay for, like, two fifths of the new roof,” he said. “Every little bit helps these days.”

Neighbors, in cooperation with city alders, decided to form a committee to determine who is eligible to receive funds and how much they will receive. Anyone requesting funds will have to provide documentation to prove their homes suffered damage.

Additionally, Bahr said the city has a list of neighbors whose homes were damaged in the explosion.

The deadline for applications is November 15. Bahr said he plans to go door-to-door to hand out applications to neighbors.

The committee is set to meet at the Fitchburg Public Library on November 20 to review applications and disburse the funds.

In August 2017, officials announced their investigatory findings , determining the explosion was caused by a natural gas leak. It became the subject of a lawsuit on behalf of the homeowner, Brian Grittner, in October 2016.