Hundreds attend memorial service for Lowell fire victims - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

Hundreds attend memorial service for Lowell fire victims

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By: Samantha Lavien
Twitter: @samanthalavien

Hundreds packed into the Glory Buddhist Temple in Lowell Sunday to pay tribute to those killed in Thursdays deadly apartment fire.

Seven people including three children lost their lives that day. Five of the victims were Cambodian.

"This is where they come for comfort and healing. The family who has lost members, they come and seek the blessing. The monk will bless the soul of the deceased,” said Paul Ratha Yem of the organization Cambodian Town.

Mourners wore white and victim’s families shaved their heads.

Among those in attendance, the two surviving children in the Sak family. The children’s parents and three siblings were killed in the fire.

"They looked perfectly normal, just like any 12–14 year old. But you can imagine what they went through. It may not sink in that they will not see their parents any longer, their siblings,” said Ratha Yem.

Lowell has the second-largest Cambodian-American population in the U.S. Figures from the 2010 census put the number at about 22,000, but community activists say they believe the number is as high as 35,000 to 40,000.

More than 40 Cambodians lost their homes in the fire. And, since the tragedy donations have been pouring in.

"I got a call from as far away as Maine and as far away as California and the Cambodian community they are saying they want to do something,” said Ratha Yem.

Two funeral homes in Lowell have offered to cover funeral costs. So far, thousands of dollars and more than five tons of food goods have been collected for all the victims.

The cause of the deadly fire still remains under investigation.

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