PEABODY — Darin Chin-Aleong heard the danger first. Then, he felt it.
Returning home from an errand on the morning of January 10, 2013, Chin-Aleong was greeted by high-pitched chirps of smoke detectors coming from the house that stands next to the Wenham Country Club golf course, the place where he has worked as the Head Golf Professional since 2006.
Chin-Aleong quickly assessed the situation. After feeling the heat radiating through the door, Chin-Aleong retreated to a neighbor’s house to call 9-1-1.
The Chin-Aleong family suffered major loss that morning, a loss that they’re still recovering from. But the family’s story is more about what remains and what they have gained.
The Chin-Aleong’s were fortunate that nobody was home when a kitchen fire started because of a burner that was left on. Darin and his wife Trina, sons Tyler (age 4) and Jackson (2) and the family dog, a yellow lab named Mulligan, were all unharmed. The house didn’t burn to the ground, but it had to be gutted. They were basically left with a few loads of laundry that were recovered from the basement and the clothes on their backs.
What they learned that day — and for weeks after — was that the community had their back.
“We lost everything. We weren’t able to recover anything because of the smoke damage. When they knocked down the asbestos (in the ceiling) there’s a substance in it called vermiculite, which is considered hazardous,” Trina Chin-Aleong said. “After the event, the hours following even, it was pretty amazing, pretty humbling experience for us. We’re usually on the other end of giving back to the community, but immediately support from the community started to come in, and we were overwhelmed.”
The family was amazed with the support shown by the fire departments of Wenham and Hamilton, and the police departments of Wenham, Beverly and Hamilton. The family received generous gifts and donations from people from the Ayer School in Beverly, where Trina works as a teacher, and from the golf community at Wenham Country Club.