On Oct. 28, after attending the funeral of his mother, Kevin Mulligan, a custodian at the Montauk School, learned that his family’s house in Montauk, a rental on Fairview Avenue, had burned down. Besides some trinkets and sentimental artwork, the only thing saved was his family’s recently adopted puppy, Mouse.
The night before the fire, 14 people had been staying in the house, all relatives in town for the funeral. They left early in the morning for the service, and a neighbor reported the fire at 3:15 p.m., Alyssa Mulligan, Mr. Mulligan’s wife, said.
Montauk is rallying around the family to help and to replace their possessions. At the school, the Sunshine Club, the Teachers Association, and various individuals are all helping in some way, Jack Perna, the district superintendent, said.
Fourteen years ago, Mr. Mulligan donated one of his kidneys to his mother, who died of renal failure on Oct. 25.
A bartender at the Sail Inn in Montauk, Ms. Mulligan has taken some time off. “I don’t need to be behind a bar. I need to be a mom right now,” she said on Tuesday.
After living at Camp Hero for several years, in April the couple moved into the Fairview Avenue house that is owned by Matt Schechter of Florida. They have three children, Kayla, 10, Ocean, 9, and Tellulah, 6, all of whom attend the Montauk School.
After the funeral, Ms. Mulligan and Ocean returned to Montauk to gather up some belongings for a longer stay with Mr. Mulligan’s father. When she turned toward the house on Fairview Avenue, the road was blocked by fire trucks. She said she was almost speechless when she learned it was their house that was being doused. The roof was destroyed. The following day, there was a rainstorm on the East End, and their belongings were further damaged by the rain that poured in.
The East Hampton Town fire marshal’s office has determined that the cause of the fire was electrical, a short circuit that probably started behind a wall.
Immediately after the fire, Denise Hamilton, who also works at the Montauk School, called the owners of the Briney Breezes Motel in Montauk for a room for the Mulligans. The motel owners, the Hartman family, put them up for free until they moved into a family member’s house in Amagansett.
After returning to Mr. Mulligan’s father’s house on Nov. 9, Ms. Mulligan was doing some cleaning and slipped on a staircase. She fractured ribs and is finding it hard to breathe. “I think it’s my third,” she said of the superstition that bad luck runs in threes.
They are searching without much luck for an affordable rental in Montauk. “We’re hoping to find someone without a big mortgage, but with a big heart, who could take a bit less in rent,” Ms. Mulligan said, adding that she doesn’t want to move her family into a winter rental. “I don’t want to keep moving my kids. I want to make a home for them,” she said.
About the possibility of living elsewhere, she said, “I’d be a little bit heartbroken about moving from Montauk, especially after what the community has just done for us, but it might be healthier for my kids.” She said that one house that’s available in the hamlet is too close to the one that they just lost, and she doesn’t want to subject her children to the constant reminder.
The East End Foundation has begun a collection and is accepting checks at P.O. Box 1746, Montauk 11954. Contributors should write Mulligan on the check’s memo line. Mr. Mulligan is a member of the Montauk Friends of Erin. Joe Bloecker, the group’s president, said they, too, would be working with the foundation to help the family.