The fire in Sag Harbor on Friday ravaged buildings and closed businesses, but at least two people, Fred Kumwenda and Michael Lynch, lost everything they owned when the blaze ripped through their second-story apartment above Compass real estate on Main Street.
Their building was between the Sag Harbor Cinema and the one that housed Sagtown Coffee. While Mr. Kumwenda was not at home at the time the fire broke out, Mr. Lynch was awakened by a village police officer and escaped with only the clothes on his back.
Four apartments were involved in the fire, according to the village building inspector, Tom Preiato, but other apartment dwellers have not yet stepped forward.
April Gornik, an artist and North Haven resident who is involved with the Sag Harbor community, organized an online fund-raiser the day after the fire to help Mr. Kumwenda get back on his feet. According to her post on Crowdrise.com, he works at the Highway restaurant in Wainscott. “Fred lost all his clothing, his laptop (which was a MacBook Pro), his beloved Takamine guitar, and of course his home,” the description on the site read. It was signed “Friends of Fred.” As of yesterday morning, $45,750 had been raised.
In an updated post after more than $4,500 had been raised, Ms. Gornik and Mr. Kumwenda’s sister, Mbachi, wrote that they were moved to tears by the support. “In the midst of all this tragedy, to have a community that steps up like this is just amazing.” Housing possibilities quickly came to light, and GeekHampton is arranging for a new computer.
On Monday, Mr. Lynch’s sister started an online campaign for him, as well. Mr. Lynch had moved into the apartment just three days before the fire, according to the post on Crowdrise.com. “He lost everything: clothes, computer, his phone, shoes, wallet, and [was] left [in] the freezing cold with only a coat, pants, and slippers,” she wrote. As of yesterday morning, $12,675 had been raised. Links to donate to both of these efforts can be found in The Star’s online stories, at easthamptonstar.com.
Meanwhile, the Sag Harbor Partnership, a nonprofit organization that has been raising money for a possible waterfront park, is gearing up to raise money to help with rebuilding. In an email, the partnership said it is in a position to obtain tax-deductible contributions through its historical building fund. “Many of our well-loved small businesses were affected, and of course our iconic streetfront will need to be repaired.”
The Sag Harbor Cinema and the Compass building were demolished between Friday and Monday. Three other buildings sustained heavy damage.
To make use of the historical building fund, any potential recipients of the money — building owners or tenants — will have to convey a need and explain the restoration of their building in the application process, the partnership said.
Donations can be made through the partnership’s website, or checks can be sent to the Sag Harbor Partnership, P.O. Box 182, Sag Harbor 11963, with “Historic Building/Fire” in the memo line. Links to donate online can be found on The Star’s website.