Quinnipiac student’s home catches fire, community responds with support

By on November 7, 2017

Photo courtesy of Alexa Schmidt
Freshman health science major Alexa Schmidt was awoken by a phone call that would change her life during the early morning Monday, Oct. 30. She was told her childhood home in Clinton, Connecticut had caught on fire.

Schmidt’s family is safe. Her mother and two sisters were at her grandmother’s house at the time of the fire and her stepfather was able to escape. However, the family’s beloved dog, Timber, perished in the fire.

Fortunately, the family is getting a lot of love and support from both Quinnipiac and Clinton. A family friend set up a GoFundMe page for the family. In six days, 153 people and families have donated to raise over $15,000 for Schmidt and her family.

The money will go towards the family rebuilding its home after the fire that started last Sunday.

“My stepfather lit the wood stove and the power went out so he went outside to turn on the generator,” Schmidt said. “The downdraft from the wind pushed through and broke the glass of the wooden stove.”

Police have yet to file an official report as they are still investigating, but the family believes that is how the fire started.

Schmidt found out about the fire before her mother and sisters.

“I woke up at one in the morning with a pit in my stomach, I knew something was wrong,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt then checked her phone to see a call from MacKenzie Miller, Schmidt’s friend and freshman at Middlesex Community College.

“My mom is a member of the fire department and we were at home listening to all the calls coming in from the storm and heard the one for Alexa’s,” Miller said.

The fire destroyed the majority of the home.

“The whole downstairs is charred and the basement has water damage from the fire department putting the fire out,” Schmidt said. “The fire did not reach the upstairs, but there is smoke damage and everything has soot on it.”

The family plans on saving the structure of the home. As for the rest of the home, most of it cannot be fixed.

“Before they gut it, I had to get what I wanted and what could be saved from my room,” Schmidt said. “It is 18 years of my life, what am I supposed to want?”

Richie Petrosino | The Quinnipiac Chronicle
Among the items Schmidt took were her prom dresses, high school graduation cap and gown and a teddy bear her best friend had gifted her years ago.

The family was staying with their grandmother, who also lives in Clinton, until Tuesday night. Now, they are currently staying in a nearby hotel. However, the family is searching for a house, apartment or something big enough to rent until the home is ready be lived in again.

Both the Quinnipiac community and the Clinton community have been giving the family support since the fire occurred.

“We feel so overwhelmed and blessed to live in such a wonderful community. We are so thankful for everyone’s generosity to our family,” Paula Rosenkrantz, Schmidt’s mother, said. “The beautiful thing about this tragedy is it will show the children how good people are and I hope they will carry that with them for the rest of their lives and always help other people in their time of need.”

People in Clinton have been dropping off clothes and food for the family all week.

“A lot of people in our town have reached out,” Schmidt said. “It is crazy how supportive people have been.”

Schmidt’s roommates at Quinnipiac also want her to know she has their support.

“Alexa is a caring and supportive person always offering a hand to the people around her,” Daniela Branchinelli, freshman finance major and Schmidt’s suitemate, said. “During this time, my roommates and I sincerely want to return all the kindness and support to her and her family.”

Even though the family is going through a rough time, Miller believes they will rise from it.

“The Schmidt family is resilient and will be back on their feet with all the love and support from family, friends and those who care,” Miller said.

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