(March 8, 2019) Parsley and Benji have their final resting place in the yard outside of the structure the Ange family’s dog and bunny called home until a Feb. 18 fire changed their lives. Slowly but surely, the Bishopville family is coping with the loss of their beloved pets.
Their focus turns a little more each day to rebuilding their home at 12121 Salt Point Road in Bayview Estates and rejoining their four-legged family members, whose memories are preserved within a memorial surrounded by flowers that neighbors and friends built recently.
For now, the Ange family — Becky, Mark and 11-year-old son, Carter — are living nearby, in a home a friend opened up to them.
Generosity has been a common theme since the morning their home burned down. “It’s very overwhelming. I never knew this many people care about my family. Anything we need they’re willing to help,” said Becky Ange, who still bears the scars of the burns on her face and left arm suffered while attempting to rescue Parsley, a female Labrador mix who would have turned 2 years old Feb. 28.
The family arrived at Surfside Rooster in West Ocean City last Saturday as a benefit event in their honor kicked into full swing. The event was barely an hour old, but an estimated 200 family members, friends and neighbors were there to support them, financially and emotionally.
“It’s a small community and everyone knows each other. You can tell everyone sticks together,” Mark Ange said. “It’s great. It’s the only way to explain it.” Which is why the family vows to rebuild their home on the same plot of land where the nightmares they still face materialized.
Becky Ange awakened her husband as flames that began in the kitchen engulfed their home. They raced downstairs to rescue Carter, who fell asleep on the couch after feeling ill earlier that evening. They escaped unharmed, but Becky headed back inside in search of Parsley.
The heat from the flames greeted her about 10 feet inside. “It started to melt my face,” she said. “I took a deep breath and sucked a lot of smoke in. Mark grabbed me by the leg and he pulled me and I went tumbling down the steps. (Parsley) died from smoke inhalation.”
An independent investigation completed Feb. 27, Mark Ange said, determined a malfunctioning wire on an exterior wall between the kitchen and front porch sparked the fire. The Worcester County Fire Marshal’s Office continues to conduct its investigation.
Mark Ange, a carpenter who once worked in fire restoration, has taken the first steps toward rebuilding the home by hand. The family is waiting for the insurance company to approve an estimate. Once that happens, the work can begin.
Becky Ange said she hopes her family can move into their new home by the end of summer. “If it doesn’t happen, then it doesn’t. I just feel completely blessed to have the place that we’re in and the people who have been so generous to us,” she said while clutching the laptop computer that friends purchased for Carter, a video game enthusiast and fifth grader at Berlin Intermediate School.
Before the guests of honor arrived at Surfside Rooster last weekend, many guests set up on tables an estimated 100 items donated for silent and Chinese auctions, which included approximately $2,800 in gift certificates. Several neighbors and friends spent two weeks collecting donations from local businesses, while guest after guest brought items to the event.
“A lot of people contributed to this event,” Bayview Estates neighbor Leslie Pacen said. “It really is an effort of a bunch of different people.” Similar benefit events have been held for the Ange family, including at Sister’s wine bar in Berlin on Feb. 28. The GoFundMe page created by Jessica Mills, Becky Ange’s close friend who also helped coordinate the Surfside Rooster event, has raised nearly $11,000 of the $15,000 goal. Proceeds from these events will benefit the family.
“We all just love the family so much,” said Juli Burton, whose husband, Jeff, owns Surfside Rooster with his brother-in-law Mike Marshall.
Mark Ange said he never expected the depth of the support his family has received from the community. “This is what the community does,” Mills said. “(The Ange family) would do anything for anyone. When people need it, people come together. It’s amazing.”
Tears welled up in Becky Ange’s eyes while speaking about the support that gives her family much-needed strength. Now, she’s ready to travel the path that takes them into their new home. “To go to bed and wake up in the middle of a fire and lose your pets and almost not make it out yourself, that’s devastating,” she said. “I feel like they have put their arms around us. We couldn’t ask for a better community.”