LOCKPORT – Melissa Moskaluk and her daughter are hoping for some help to restore their lives to something like normal.
The 44-year-old cancer survivor lost everything in a fire that ripped through their half of a two-unit dwelling Thursday in Lockport.
“Any help from the community would be gratefully appreciated. The less I have to worry about, the better. I’m already overwhelmed,” Moskaluk said Monday.
The blaze, at 114 West Ave., destroyed the interior of the apartment they rented on the ground floor as well as the upstairs apartment, occupied by another woman and her 18-month-old son.
Four police officers evacuated everyone safely, but for Moskaluk, who has been on temporary disability because of her cancer treatments and out of work for five years, all that was saved were a few photos and two cats that were found safe in the ruins the next day, just before the house was boarded up.
Moskaluk and her daughter Brianna Newell, 10, had moved into the West Avenue home three months ago after 10 years on South Bristol Avenue.
“The clothes aren’t looking too well,” Moskaluk said. “We had seven pieces of clothing so far that we were able to save, but [Brianna] had bags and bags of clothes. We’re still working on getting the smell out of them, but from what I hear, it’s quite challenging to get smoke out of clothes.”
There was no renter’s insurance, so Moskaluk’s life is upside down. The former employee of Madonna House has a human services degree and is certified to work with drug addicts, people with autism and victims of domestic violence, but she’s been out of work for years. Her cancer is in remission.
The Red Cross placed her and Brianna in the Lockport Inn and Suites until today, and Monday she was looking at other apartments.
She said money and gift cards would be the most help. “As far as furniture, I think we’re getting some donations,” Moskaluk said. “The money is to help me with my new place, and the gift cards would be for anything I didn’t think of after that, and hopefully something toward Christmas.”
Donations may be sent to Moskaluk’s close friend Heather Alcantar, 222 West Ave., Lockport, NY 14094. Alcantar said all donations should be sent in care of Melissa Moskaluk, and checks should be made out to Moskaluk.
The cause of the fire has yet to be determined.
Landlord Larry L. Simons said his insurance company hired its own investigator. Simons said that investigator thinks a discarded cigarette might have been the cause of the fire that ruined the house, built in the late 1800s. Simons has owned it for 13 years.
“It’s probably going to be torn down,” said Simons, who owns other rental properties in Lockport.
The other victim in the fire, who had lived in the house for only six days, is living with her father and has declined to be publicly identified or to seek donations.