Rowayton Elementary School teacher loses all possessions in Danbury condo fire

Donations are pouring in for a Norwalk teacher who lost everything in a devastating fire last month at her Danbury condo.

News 12 Staff

Aug 4, 2021, 7:33 PM

Updated 1,022 days ago


Donations are pouring in for a Norwalk teacher who lost everything in a devastating fire last month at her Danbury condo.
Gianna Fiorentini credits her fiancé and her daughter's poor sleeping habits for everyone escaping on July 19.
She says around midnight, the toddler woke up and came into her bed - and with not enough room for three, fiancé David Tilzer decided to sleep on the couch downstairs.
Tilzer woke at 2:30 a.m. to see smoke outside and found the garage engulfed in flames. Fiorentini says she and her daughter, Hazel, were asleep on the third floor until Tilzer ran into the bedroom screaming.
"All I remember is him screaming, 'Get out of the house! It's on fire! Get out of the house! It's on fire!" she says.
Fiorentini grabbed Hazel and ran outside wearing just a T-shirt and no shoes and watched everything they own burn. The family lost all their possessions, including cars.
"I ran to the neighbor's and I started ringing their doorbell and banging on their door and they weren't waking up," Fiorentini says.
She says her fiancé threw a rock through a sliding door to try to wake them, and when that didn't lead to any movement inside, he and another neighbor broke the door's lock and ran in.
Fiorentini says everyone in all three condos made it out safely, though Hazel got a small burn on her arm.
Tilzer was able to rescue their dog, but their 15-year-old cat is still missing.
"We're looking for as many, you know, small wins or small positives. There's not always a lot in this situation," Fiorentini says.
Fiorentini is getting ready to return to her sixth year teaching kindergarten at Rowayton Elementary School. To help out, the Rowayton Elementary PTA started a GoFundMe effort.
Fiorentini says she's overwhelmed, humbled and grateful for the outpouring of support.
"I've never had to accept this type of charity, and it's hard to do, but it's just amazing that it's out there for me and that this many people want to help," she says.
She tells News 12 that along with the donated money, she's been offered furniture, kids' toys and even received some cards and drawings from students in the mail.
"People out there in Rowayton, the people in Wilton, the people here in Danbury that have reached out to help me are giving me the hope and the strength to get through it," Fiorentini says.
The cause of the fire is still being investigated.

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