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No place like home for the holdays for Reilly family

January 01, 2001

No place like home for the holdays for Reilly family



By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI / Staff Writer


This Christmas, the Reilly family of Hagerstown said they got the best gift ever - a new home to replace the one destroyed by fire nearly a year ago.

It's good to be back home, Thomas and Irene Reilly said as they sat in the living room of their newly built two-story duplex at 620-622 George St. Wednesday.

"We always knew we'd rebuild," said Thomas Reilly.

The couple lived with relatives, then rented a home nearby while theirs was under construction. In early December, they were able to move in and quickly got settled.

A Hagerstown fire marshal blamed the Jan. 31 fire on a faulty refrigerator cord at 620 George St.

Firefighters from 22 companies were needed to put out the blaze that gutted the duplex. Two neighboring buildings also were damaged when winds blew the 20 foot flames their way.

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The Reilly house was damaged by fires twice before, according to Hagerstown Fire officials.

The opposite side of the Reillys' duplex, 622 George St., is occupied by their son, Thomas Reilly Jr., and daughter-in-law, Penny Reilly, who were also displaced in the January fire.

Thomas Reilly inherited the home from his father and said he had lived in it for 30 years.

"There's a lot of memories here," he said.

Their new two-bedroom home was built on the foundation of the old house, but has some changes.

The family put in a new furnace and an air conditioning unit. They also enclosed a stairwell and increased the size of a bathroom.

The outside of the home has light-brown siding and each unit has a front door with decorative glass.

The Reillys said they lost everything in the fire except some photos and a metal box that contained change.

"What wasn't burned was ruined by the water" used to fight the blaze, said Irene Reilly.

The Reillys said they were grateful to all those who gave them a place to stay, clothing and other household items.

"It was amazing all of the people that helped us. People that we didn't even know or weren't that close to," she said.

The couple said they left their home around 6 p.m. or 6:30 p.m. on the night of the fire to visit relatives and returned to find the house engulfed in flames.

Thomas Reilly Jr. and Penny Reilly were at home watching television when their dog, Pebbles, started to bark and jump, he said. The couple ran out of the house and Thomas Reilly Jr. ran next door to rescue his father's dog, he said.

Everyone got out safely.

"I know God was watching over us," said Irene Reilly.

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