RIVERSIDE — It's been more than a year since the Dipasquale family lost everything when their home went up in flames.
More than a year later they still are so appreciative of the first responders who came to their aid, they hosted another barbecue for firefighters and other responders.
An estimated 100 to 150 neighbors, responders and their families showed up at the Southside Fire Company pavilion on Sunday for the barbecue, according to Tom Dipasquale's estimate. The family hosted a similar event last year as a show of appreciation to the responders.
"I was just overwhelmed with the support of the community," said Dipasquale, 52, owner of D's Clothier in downtown Danville. "The fire response was amazing. This was just something we could do to give back to these people who brave it, run into danger while everyone runs away."
The May 2, 2018 fire at 703 Toby Run Road in Mahoning Township destroyed the home where Dipasquale, his wife, Mary, and their children Luke and Anna lived for 12 years.
"Three state police fire marshals couldn't determine the cause," Dipasquale said.
"There was too much damage," said Mahoning Township Fire Chief Leslie Young, who was among the firefighters who attended the barbecue.
Young, who was the chief in charge of the fire scene that drew about 75 firefighters from Montour, Columbia and Northumberland counties, said the Dipasquales' recognition of responders was wonderful.
"It's obviously not necessary, but it's very much appreciated," said Young, who gave Mary and Tom each a hug when she was leaving the barbecue.
"As firefighters, we definitely appreciate it," said firefighter Matt Chappell of Goodwill Hose Company in Danville. "We don't respond to calls looking for something like this. We respond for public safety. We do it to give back to the community."
Mary Dipasquale said more people should show their appreciation to first responders.
"It doesn't take much," she said. "Just say, 'Thank you' and give them a hug now and again."
She said good friends also helped them. Friends and downtown businesses held fundraisers to help the family.
The Dipasquales have since rebuilt at the same location.
"We were back in the new house a year and a month after the fire," said Tom Dipasquale.
"And they put in a sprinkler system," Young said later.
She said the two story home was already engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived just after 4 p.m. The dry windy weather did not help the firefighters' efforts.
Fortunately, no one was home when the fire started. Luke Dipasquale, then 17, discovered the fire when he came home from school. He called 911 then his father. Unfortunately, the family's five pet cats perished in the blaze.
Young estimated the loss of the home at $400,000. It was insured.
Dipasquale is grateful, though, no one was hurt. He said they also were fortunate a friend had a home on Market Street in Danville where they could live temporarily.
"Our neighbors embraced us and brought us food," he said. "It was very welcoming."
They are appreciative of their township neighbors, too, whom Dipasquale referred to as "Toby Run local."