Help Needed For River Street Fire Victims

A fire in the South End of Waterbury displaced Rojan James and his family.

                                         Story By John Murray

   A fire at ripped through a multi-family house at 273 River Street in the South End of Waterbury on December 29th, at 10:30 pm, and displaced 19 people. There was no loss of life and the displaced are being temporarily housed at the American Motor Lodge on South Main Street. Pictured here is Rojan James pulling a few personal items out of the first floor apartment he lived in for seven years with his wife, Shaneena LeBron, and their seven children (the youngest being two months old). The fire started on the second floor and James reacted quickly to get his entire family out of the structure, and pounded through a wall to alert Jacob Torres and  Alycia Colon living in the basement.

All the furnishings and possessions inside 273 River Street were destroyed by fire, smoke and water.

   The Hispanic Coalition of Greater Waterbury is assisting the 19 displaced with winter jackets, gloves and hats. Victor Lopez is the executive director of the Hispanic Coalition and called James a hero for alerting his neighbors and helping to get everyone out of the burning structure.

The Hispanic Coalition has become the go-to place for assisting fire victims in the South End of Waterbury. Victor Lopez is the executive director of the Hispanic Coalition and he has worked with State Represntative Geraldo Reyes Jr. the past eight months to help 60 victims of structure fires. Lopes, is also an aldermen in Waterbury, and he and Reyes were the key organizers in getting three truckloads of relief supplies to hurricane ravaged Puerto Rico.

13-year-old Milan James tries on a new winter coat inside the Hispanic Coalition as Jacob Torres and Alycia Colon look on. All three lost all their posessions in the fire.

   James is living in a single hotel room with his wife and seven children as they try and rebuild their lives. Other than the handful of items that James is shown here carrying out of the structure, the family has lost everything. Anyone wishing to assist James, and the other two families of the fire, the best way to do so is to donate cash or gift cards to the Hispanic Coalition at 135 E Liberty St # 5, Waterbury, CT 06706. Phone: (203) 754-6172

   Waterbury was exceedingly compassionate to the 40 fire victims from the Lounsbury Street fire last May, so let’s see what we can do for 19 displaced community members holed up inside the American Motor Lodge with little more than the clothes on their back.