PEPPERELL - Four adults and three children were left homeless after a fire tore through the two-family home Thursday.

Carole Eaton was taken to the hospital with minor burns, after the fire, which was reported around 6:15 p.m..

Friday morning, she was outside the house with her daughter, Christine Shank, and her son, James Farrar, who just put $100,000 into the home.

Eaton was a hero when she discovered the fire, dragging Shank's two children, ages 3 and 8, from their side of the home.

She saved the children, but she was upset that Molly, the 5-year-old Rottweiler, was left behind. It was the child or the dog, she said. Another 20 seconds and the fire would have taken the children, Shank said.

Her son got out safely.

People arrived during the fire, already lending a helping hand. "Some lady took the shoes off her feet and gave them to me," Shank said.

The Salvation Army put the family up for the night in Ayer, but the magnitude of their family's loss was hitting home the next day.

Some things can never be replaced. Their dad's ashes were in there. Shank hoped they might have survived the inferno.

"I have to worry about every penny," she said. "It's just us."

They have no clothes of their own.


Even their cell phones are gone.

Shank and her mother have no transportation. One car was burnt. Another blasted out an alarm when the door opened.

A closetful of clothes saved for the younger child is in ashes.

What will happen to Molly's body? The cost for cremation is out of reach.

But, already, the donations were coming in. A woman dropped off a gift card, saying it was from a neighbor. Another friend offered the use of a car, saying it was nothing great but it was insured.

Eaton was on the phone, trying to reach her insurance company.

Farrar was trying to rescue what he could from the charred ruins.

The Salvation Army stopped by with some home-cooked food from the Senior Center, the outreach extension unit. They gave the family a voucher for the Fitchburg store and for Market Basket.

They are looking for a better place for them to stay tonight.

The building will be demolished, the family said. They do not know where they will live until it can be replaced. They need to remain local so Shank's older child can get to school.

Donations can be made to the Farrar-Shank Fire Fund at LowellFive.

Groton Hair, Inc. is collecting donations for the family. The salon is at 30 Hollis St., Groton.

"Everything we have is donated," Shank said.

Follow Anne O'Connor on Twitter @a1oconnor.