Fire victim remembered for her kindness, generosity

Barbara Curley was always there for others.

Curley, who died Monday after a fire in her Florence Drive home a day earlier, was remembered by friends and neighbors for her work with a number of community organizations, including St. Lawrence Church, the American Legion and Echo Hose Ambulance.

Curley, 67, was a longtime religious education teacher at St. Lawrence, beginning in 1975 as a catechist, said Karen O’Keefe, coordinator of religious education for the Huntington church.

“If I needed an extra teacher, I could call her at the last minute and she’d be here in five minutes,” O’Keefe said. “She never said no. Anything you asked her she always wanted to help and would do whatever she could to help.”

She was also involved in the church’s women’s group and was a constant participant in outreach drives — but never sought credit for it, said Ceil Parker, a sacramental coordinator at St. Lawrence.

“She was a very quiet person,” Parker said. “She never wanted any attention.”

Robin Mojcik, a neighbor, remembered Curley for her work to help others.

“She was very generous with her time and with her resources,” Mojcik said. “She was a very kind person. It’s very, very sad.”

A retired nurse, Curley was a mother of two and also a former longtime volunteer at Shelton’s Echo Hose Ambulance service.

Chief Michael Chaffee sent an email to Echo Hose Ambulance staff Tuesday expressing condolences.

“It is with a heavy heart I announce the passing of longtime volunteer and veteran member Barbara Curley,” Chaffee wrote. “Our love and prayers go out to her family during this tragic time.”

Her husband, Patrick, a Navy veteran, died in 2016. Curley was the president of the American Legion Unit 16 Auxiliary.

“I share the grief, the loss of Barbara with her family,” Jack Finn, an officer at the Legion and former alderman, said.

Funeral arrangements had not yet been finalized as of Tuesday afternoon.

The fire was reported about 3:30 p.m. Sunday after neighbors noticed smoke coming from Curley’s home at 22 Florence Drive.

Neighbor David Murad, a retired Shelton police officer, said he and others tried to get into the single-story house but were unable to because of clutter inside.

“I could see the flames in the kitchen, it looked like it was coming from the stove area,” Murad said. “You could see in the back of the house where the exhaust fan is for the hood of the stove, that had come out and there was charring.”

Firefighters forced their way into the home and found Curley unconscious in a bathroom, according to Shelton Fire Department Chief Fran Jones. She was taken to Bridgeport Hospital, where she died Monday.

The fire was knocked down in 40 to 45 minutes. Jones said three firefighters received minor injuries, with two — one with a sprained ankle, another with burn injuries — taken to Bridgeport Hospital, where they were treated and released. The third was treated for burn injuries at the scene, said Jones.

Shelton Fire Marshal James Tortora said investigators think the blaze started accidentally in the home’s kitchen, though an official determination had not yet been made.

“More likely than not (it was) associated with cooking,” Tortora said.

An official cause of death had not yet been determined as of Tuesday, Detective Christopher Nugent said.

Curley and her husband bought the home in 1976, according to Shelton land records.

Brian Gioiele contributed to this article.