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February 1, 2014

Fire survivors struggle in aftermath

(Continued)

Running back in, Rivers found the kitchen in flames and tried to locate Taylor in the smoke-filled house. 

He began shouting her name and was able to hear her shout back, he said. 

But the fire raged on, and his search was cut short.

“I got pulled out (by) the cops,” he said.

‘NO CAUSE YET’

Rivers was brought to Alice Hyde, where he was treated for smoke inhalation and released. 

Firefighters found Taylor’s body that afternoon, upstairs. An autopsy determined she had died from asphyxiation from smoke inhalation.

As of Friday, Rivers was staying with friends in Malone, as investigation into the cause of the fire continued.

Malone Village Police Chief Chris Premo said that determination had yet to be made.

LONG-DISTANCE HELP

Though living many hours away, Rivers’s brother-in-law Richard Garrison was moved to take action after hearing about the fire.

“It’s hard because we’re down in North Carolina, and we can’t be up there to support them,” he said.

Remembering an online fundraiser a niece had organized, Garrison took to the Internet to offer his long-distance support.

He set up an account on the crowdfunding website GiveForward, where anyone with a credit or debit card donate to those affected by the fire.

Garrison remembered Taylor as a kind, friendly woman who loved three things: her family, her boyfriend and 1980s pop singer Rick Springfield.

Thinking back through his 11-year relationship with Taylor, Rivers said their happiest memories were being together in the audience of countless Springfield concerts.

“We were always having the best time of our lives,” he said.

They went to at least 10 Springfield shows a year, he said. 

Though Taylor didn’t have one favorite song in particular, it was Springfield’s 1981 hit “Jessie’s Girl” that started the obsession.

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