Fire claims life of mother
Former Greenville and Wilton resident Lisa Englehart, 39, died on Saturday night in a house fire in Fitchburg according to Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr.
Englehart, who was residing in Fitchburg, and Englehart’s nephew, Christopher Brinkley, 22, were pronounced dead at Leominster Hospital, after a fire ripped through an apartment house at 53 East St. on Saturday evening, according to the press release. A third person, Frank Huckins Sr., 65, was transported to the Leominster Hospital and admitted to the Intensive Care Unit. Six other residents of the home escaped and were uninjured, according to the press release.
Christine Aggott of New Ipswich, one of Englehart’s long-time friends, said she got the call about the fire shortly after it occurred, and immediately drove to Leominster with Englehart’s relatives. “I flew down to her house. We ran through all the fire equipment, screaming her name. Finally, we were told that two people were brought to Leominster [Hospital] that didn’t make it. We went to the hospital to meet the ambulance, and we were able to have our goodbyes,” she said.
Englehart had resided in Fitchburg for two years, according to Aggott. Prior to that, Englehart lived in Wilton for two years, and before that, had lived in Greenville. Her adult son, Matthew Gravell, and husband, Mike Gravell, from whom she is separated, still reside in Greenville.
Aggott fondly remembers Englehart as the “Thelma” to her “Louise.” Though the two were not related, said Aggott, they had been close, they considered each other sisters.
“We would do everything together,” said Aggott. “She was my Thelma. We bought each other matching rings and became blood sisters — we did that silly teenage thing.” The two had a long history of doing the casual things that friend’s do together. They would sit and watch TV, do word puzzles, shop together, or just talk.
Another close friend was Beth Masson of Greenville. She and Lisa grew up together, Masson recalled in a phone interview on Monday.
“We first met each other, she was 13, I was 12,” said Masson. “We moved to Greenville about the same time, and neither of us had any other friends. We became inseparable after that. [She] and I were crazy together, I guess. She was either at my house or I was at her house.”
The two were always passing notes to each other in school, and even though they were in separate grades, would always team up when school Spirit Week called for a twin day.
“She’s been there for so many things,” said Masson. “My wedding, my kids, my life, she’s been there for everything. My children call her auntie. She was my other sister. I feel like I lost the other half of me today, and I would say she was the better half. She was the stronger one.”
While she lived in Wilton, prior to her move to Fitchburg, Englehart worked as a cook at Nennie’s 5 Star Cafe, which at the time was located in Greenville. Nennie Gallagher of Greenville, the owner of the cafe, said in an interview Monday that she had long known about Englehart’s generous disposition, working with her with the school lunch program in the Mascenic School District, before Gallagher hired her as an employee.
“Lisa had a big heart, would do anything to help anyone else. It’s really sad to hear what transpired,” said Gallagher. The two had children the same age, said Gallagher, and she recalled what a devoted mother Englehart was. “She was involved. She went on field trips — she was one of those school moms.”
The fire remains under investigation by the State Fire Marshal’s Office, Worcester District Attorney’s Office and the Fitchburg Police and Fire departments.
A memorial fund has been set up in Englehart’s name in order to defray burial and other related costs. The fund has been established at TD Bank, by her husband and Aggott. The account number is 9245140275. The routing number is 011400071.