Leechburg rallies around Nov. 16 fire victims |
Valley News Dispatch

Leechburg rallies around Nov. 16 fire victims

Leechburg residents are rallying in support of two of their own.

A spaghetti fundraiser is scheduled for Dec. 9 for fire victims Dennis “PeeWee” Cuffia and Lois Boston. It will be held at the Marconi Club on River Avenue in Leechburg, a few blocks from where they used to live.

Boston, 63, and Cuffia, 66, were not at their rental home at 450 Canal St. when fire struck Nov. 16. , 2018

Although they weren’t hurt, all three of their pets died in the blaze.

The structure was left uninhabitable and virtually all of its contents were destroyed.

Neither roommate had renter’s insurance.

Their two dogs, PeeWee and Cleo, and their bird, Chloe, were buried together this week at a private residence in Gilpin — the hardest part of the fire tragedy, Boston said.

“I have been having trouble with that,” said Boston, a breast cancer survivor. “The dogs were with me throughout my chemo.”

Boston did find a treasured photograph of her parents among the charred remains.

Cuffia lost about 15 guns — all used for hunting and all with sentimental value.

Cuffia still plans to go hunting Monday, the first day of the state’s firearms buck season, with his son offering to lend him a shotgun.

“We always go hunting together on the first day of deer season, and that is something that bonds us together,” Cuffia said.

The longtime roommates secured a new residence in Leechburg this week but have to “set up a new house,” they said.

“I lost all of my photos — everything,” Cuffia said.

The biggest expense will be buying a washer, dryer and television.

“We want to thank the first-responders and community for all of their support,” Cuffia said. “We have to give those EMTs a lot of credit for trying to save the animals.”

Volunteers from the Schenley Ladies Auxiliary Unit No. 775 in Gilpin have partnered with the Marconi Club in Leechburg for the spaghetti dinner.

“It’s nice when the community comes together to help their own, and we hope to raise as much money as we can for them,” organizer Danielle Marsinetti said.

A 50/50 raffle and Chinese auction will be offered.

Organizers are requesting that donated Chinese auction baskets, in any theme, from the public be dropped off at the Marconi Club at 135 River Ave.

Cuffia and Boston have been staying at his sister’s residence in Gilpin since the fire.

They stressed how thankful they are for the outpouring of support during this Thanksgiving season.

“We will start from scratch and move on,” Cuffia said.

Joyce Hanz is a freelance writer.

Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review
Fire officials say no one was hurt in this fire along Canal Street in Leechburg on Friday, Nov. 16, 2018, but the family’s two dogs and a bird died.
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