The Lowell family who lost five relatives in a devastating apartment fire last week thanked the community today for its “unbelievable outpouring of love and support” during their time of grief.
In a statement, the family of Ellen Vuong thanked firefighters and other first responders for their service, and for “doing all they could have that morning.”
“You Lowellians really do take care of your own, and we thank you all from the bottom of our hearts,” the family wrote.
Vuong, 32, her longtime partner Torn Sak, and three of their five children: Anthony, 12, Ryan, 9, and Sayuri Sak, 7 — died in the fire. Two of their neighbors — Tina Christakos, 44, and Robert Downs, 72 — were also killed.
Full coverage: Seven killed in Lowell fire
“The news came as a shock to us and we couldn’t believe it, because in one phone call, we lost a daughter, a sister, a future sister-in-law, a friend, a brother-in-law, nephews, grandsons, a niece, a granddaughter, and all of the future possibilities that we will now never know,” the family wrote.
Officials have concluded that an electrical problem inside a concealed space with no fire stops between the second and third floor of the Branch Street building was the cause of the fire. The fire damaged and then consumed the wiring for the smoke alarm system, officials have said. No charges have been brought in the blaze.
In their message, the family recalled the couple as a “great, loving parents” who stressed the importance of education to their children, and said they had set up a trust to pay for their education.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made online.
“Our number one priority is the short-term and long-term safety and well-being of Danny and Brian Sak in these difficult times,” the family said.
Danny, 14, and Brian, 11, escaped the fire with the help of their grandfather. They are now in the care of their grandmother.
In an obituary, the couple was recalled as deeply devoted to their children.
They went “to great lengths to keep them safe and away from trouble,” the family wrote.
Sak was a wonderful example to his children “through his generosity to others and his willingness to help anyone in need,” they wrote.
Vuong loved cooking and was a “kind and loving mother who was able to make her children feel special on an individual basis,” the statement said.
Anthony had just completed sixth grade at the James S. Daley Middle School, where he received a straight-A report card that his mother proudly posted on Facebook. Anthony loved solving puzzles and building with his Japanese action figures.
Ryan, who had just finished third grade, loved playing videogames and flying toy helicopters. Sayuri, who had just turned 7, loved to help her mother cook, and often hosted tea parties. She adored her dolls, and loved talking about ponies.
Peter Schworm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globepete.