ST. THOMAS — The Frett family lost everything earlier this month in a kitchen explosion that burned down their Smith Bay home. Evans Frett, the father, was not home at the time, but the mother, Susan Dumas, was able to safely get their 5-year old, 4-year old and 1-year-old twin sons out before the blaze engulfed the residence.
The mother received some burns on her back and arm when she went back to retrieve the twins. With no place to live, the family has been asking the St. Thomas community for help, and the community is responding.
After seeking aid on social media, a GoFundMe page was established to help raise funds to get the family of six back on their feet. So far, the campaign has raised just under $14,000 out of the $80,000 goal to be used for clothing, food, shelter, school supplies, toiletries, medication and medical assistance. To donate, visit gf.me/u/yw8pbw.
Deputy Chief Eustace Grant Jr. of the Omar Brown Sr. Fire Station (Hotel Company) decided the members of the fire department could help with more than just putting out the flames. He approached the management team to organize a one-day relief drive, gathering donations Tuesday at both the Omar Brown Sr. station as well as the George C. Scott Station in Tutu (Lima Company).
“I was on the scene, and after seeing the loss and seeing the lady was burned, and then seeing the family reaching out on social media, we figured we could do our part with a one-day drive,” said Grant.
By the end of the day, two truckloads of donations were collected at the Omar Brown station, with more waiting for pickup at the Tutu station. Along with members of the fire department, the Radio One’s “C’mon, Man” radio show was there to show support, and the Community and Police Association helped with donations and loading.
Additionally, the Red Cross was able to put the family at Bella Vista Hotel temporarily, and the Virgin Islands Housing Finance Authority is providing assistance to find a new residence.
“These are our friends and neighbors, and they need our assistance,” said Fire Service Director Daryl A. George in a statement.
Too young to truly comprehend the situation, the boys appear resilient.
“The kids are doing OK,” Dumas said Tuesday. “They just keep saying ‘Mommy, when are we going back home?’ I tell them we’ll be back home in just a little time. They see the burns and are asking if it hurts and I say ‘it’s OK, Mommy’s OK.’ My dog got burned, but my kids are alive. We have life. And we are so thankful to everyone.”
The family is also open to collecting items Monday through Friday from 6 to 7 p.m. in the vicinity of the Pueblo Supermarket in Long Bay. For a direct donation, call 340-514-2342 or 340-513-9960 to arrange a meeting.