Newtown Pizza Palace patrons have enjoyed the engaging conversations of server Ingrid Bergquist for three decades. Now Pizza Palace owners James Donahue and Katrina Lekay are calling on patrons and neighbors to help Ms Bergquist and homeowner Nancy Rahikka, who were both injured in a fire that destroyed their home early Sunday morning on The Boulevard.
The restaurant owners have set up a collection point for cash, checks and gift cards to be dropped off for the benefit of their employee and her housemate. Newtown Pizza Palace is at 65 Church Hill Road.
Ms Bergquist and Ms Rahikka were discovered unresponsive in the burning building shortly after 1 am Sunday. They were carried to safety by Newtown Police Officers Matt Wood, Steve Borges and John McDermott, who arrived on the scene just ahead of fire apparatus, according to police and fire officials. Both women were taken to Danbury Hospital.
Mr Donahue said he visited Ms Bergquist on December 9 and her recovery was progressing.
Monday evening, Rotary Club of Newtown members turned over several hundred dollars in gift cards slated for a fundraising raffle to the Bergquist fundraising effort, according to member Joe Hemingway.
In addition to donations being collected at the Pizza Palace, Ashley Pratt Neumann has set up a gofundme.com page to help raise money for Ms Bergquist, her aunt.
Her introductory remarks on the website state: “We are all so thankful that she will make a full recovery! We do however fear that she has lost most everything in that fire. So many of Ingrid’s family and friends have reached out asking for a way to donate or help Ingrid during this very difficult time. We have set up this fund for Ingrid to help get her back up on her feet as soon as possible.”
As of midday Tuesday, December 10, the fund had raised more than $4,200. GoFundMe deducts a 5 percent fee from each donation, along with an added processing fee of about 3 percent from each payment.
The house, a one and a half story Cape built around 1940, was heavily damaged from the fire. Firefighters had to cut holes in the roof and the northern side of the house in order to ventilate the dwelling. The fire marshal said while fire was confined to just the three areas of the home, there was significant heat and water damage throughout.