WILTON - A late Saturday afternoon fire ripped through a multi-purpose building that housed a charity for soldiers and an apartment where a family of four lived.
While no one was hurt in the fire, it gutted both the residence and offices for Operation Adopt A Soldier.
The fire left both the organization and and the family of four pondering their next steps.
The one-story building at 4281 Route 50 was deemed a total loss with severe structure and roof damage. The burnt out shell with piles of rubble inside was still standing on Sunday.
The blaze started in the building's utility room, officials said. The investigation into its cause continued Sunday.
On Sunday, both residents Abby and Jose Gonzalez and Operation Adopt A Soldier co-chairman Cliff Seguin sifted through the rubble to see what remained.
The soldiers' charity has been collecting donations such as toiletries, snacks and other items for military personnel since 2003.
At the time of the fire, 266 care packages were packed and ready to be sent to troops serving overseas, Seguin said. The organization lost those, along with priceless memorabilia that had been inside its headquarters of 18 years.
Though firefighters were able to save two American Flags that featured signatures of military personnel, many of the items with a large sentimental value to the organization could not be saved.
"There was stuff in there that was irreplaceable," Seguin said.
At the Gonzalez family residence, Abby and Jose Gonzalez wore plastic bags to cover their feet as they went through what was left of their home. They lived there with their two children, their young son, Harper, and their 19-year-old daughter, Natalie, who uses a wheelchair.
"The number one priority right now is finding a place to stay," Abby Gonzalez said.
At Operation Adopt A Soldier, Seguin said, the organization will focus on finding a new headquarters and regathering donated goods to be sent to soldiers. While the organization had insurance, it won't be enough to cover the total damages wrought by the fire, Seguin said.
Operation Adopt A Soldier is accepting monetary donations through its website, OperationAdoptASoldier.org/. The site features both a list of recommended donation items and a list of drop off locations.
GoFundMe pages have also been established for both Operation Adopt A Soldier (https://www.gofundme.com/operation-adopt-a-soldier-fire) and the Gonzalez family (https://www.gofundme.com/abigail-amp-jose-gonzalez-fire-relief-fund).