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May 17. 2013 9:18PM

Online fund set up for Salem house fire victims

SALEM — The daughter of the Salem man who lost nearly all of his belongings when his house caught fire Tuesday afternoon is reaching out to the online community for assistance.

Shortly after 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, fire crews from Salem, Windham, Derry and Methuen, Mass., were called to the home of Tom and Neusiman Heaphy, 20A Atkinson Road, where they assisted in an aggressive interior attack of the house fire.

The couple have lived at the cottage for over a decade.

While fire crews were able to rescue and revive the couple’s 10-year-old cat and had the blaze under control within an hour, the home was deemed a total loss, according to Tom’s daughter, Michaela Heaphy.

“What little could be recovered has been,” Heaphy said. “But the fire has left them without clothes or even the most basic of house wares.”

An online relief fund, set up via the website, was established the day after the fire in hopes of helping the couple start over.

Heaphy said she’s hoping to raise at least $2,000 to assist her family. As of Friday morning, friends and strangers had donated $850 online.

A bent extension cord that threw out sparks is believed to have caused the fire inside the 20-by-20-foot cottage earlier this week, though the incident remains under investigation, fire officials said.

While some things the family lost in the fire, such as photo albums, can’t be replaced, Heaphy said they’re choosing to focus on the positive.

Fortunately, her father and stepmother weren’t in the house at the time of the fire. “Had this happened (another night) my dad could have easily succumbed to smoke inhalation before realizing anything was wrong,” Heaphy said. “The fire started less than 2 feet from where he sleeps.”

Those wishing to help the Heaphy family may do so online at

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