Fire destroyed a Swansea family’s home. Here’s how to help.


SWANSEA — A local family was displaced after an electrical fire destroyed their home.

On Friday, May 26, a fire broke out inside a home on the corner of Bark Street and Houlton Street.

“My house was up in flames in seconds,” said Helena Camarao, one of the home’s residents.


“Hero” neighbor helps them escape

Camarao credited one of her family’s neighbors, Paul Medeiros, with saving their lives after the home’s smoke detectors failed to go off.

“If it wasn’t for him, we’d all be gone,” she said.

Medeiros banged on their door to alert them to the fire and helped her aging parents escape, then went back into the house to make sure the family pets all made it out, she said.

“He risked his own life,” Camarao said. “He was our hero.”

Camarao, her husband and their three children moved to Swansea from Taunton last summer to care for Camarao’s parents, who also lived in the home that was destroyed. Camarao’s daughter, Dakota, just finished her senior year at Taunton High School.

“She lost everything that she has worked so hard for. All her college stuff including her laptop,” Camarao said.

A GoFundMe to help the family has been set up and had raised around $12,000 by Friday morning. The family is also accepting donations through Camarao’s Venmo, @Helena-Camarao.

The fire completely destroyed the house, according to the Swansea Fire Department. None of the seven people living there were injured and the family’s three dogs also escaped unscathed. But, the family’s cat was seriously injured.

The damage is likely worth around $250,000, the department said.

The Swansea Fire Department and the State Fire Marshal investigated the cause of the fire and determined that it started accidentally from an electrical appliance.


Area dry cleaners works overtime to help with prom dress

While the family has lost almost everything, one of the only objects in the house that was untouched by the flames was Dakota’s prom dress.

“That was a miracle,” Camarao said.

Dakota’s senior prom at Taunton High School was this past Wednesday. A worker at a local dry cleaners in Taunton stepped up to help restore the dress in time for the big dance.

Kelly Ingalls, an employee at Dermody Cleaners, got a call the weekend after the fire about the prom dress needing to be restored. Usually, they would be closed on Sunday, plus they planned to be closed on Monday, which was Memorial Day.

Still, Ingalls worked over the weekend to restore Dakota’s dress, using a special ozone treatment to remove the smell of smoke.

“We were gonna close in an hour, I said just have her bring it down,” she said.

She spend 48 hours in total working on the dress, which was finished in time for prom.

“I felt so bad, they lost everything but somehow they got that dress out of there,” Ingalls said.

Ingalls said her work felt like it was worth it later, when she got to see Dakota wearing the dress on her way to prom.

“She looked very happy considering what’s going on,” she said. “Hopefully she went out to prom and had a good time.”


Article by Audrey Cooney – Fire destroyed a Swansea family’s home. Here’s how to help.

Back to Press