A Chester County woman was working at her son's elementary school Thursday when a bus driver called to alert her that police had just blockaded her street.
In two minutes, shortly past noon, Angela Cupaiuolo was at the scene of what turned out to be a fast-moving fire that destroyed the home in East Goshen Township she shared with her husband, Mark Cupaiuolo, and their two children.
Most of the family's possessions went up in flames, including Christmas gifts. But on Christmas Eve, the family was celebrating - and compiling a long list of people to thank.
"We're just overwhelmed with the outpouring of generosity," Angela Cupaiuolo said. "It's hard to put into words. It's a beautiful, beautiful thing. They've made this a joyful holiday."
Cupaiuolo said neighbors and emergency responders assisted her from the moment she saw the blaze, initiating a series of kind gestures and donations that have continued.
She said firefighters and a neighbor broke a door to rescue the family's two mixed-boxer dogs. The Brandywine Veterinary Hospital offered to house them until the family, staying temporarily with Cupaiuolo's parents in Broomall, relocates.
Firefighters also worked hard to save one stash of wrapped presents that had been in the master bedroom.
"They were so excited when they came out with them," Cupaiuolo said.
She said those gifts were mainly for relatives. The presents for her children had been hidden in the attic, where the fire apparently started, she said.
When her husband's employer, David Dodge of Glen Mills, heard that news, it delivered a load of wrapped packages for Marissa, 13, and Anthony, 9, on Thursday.
Some benefactors have been anonymous, she said.
"One gentleman showed up - he reminded me of a tall, thin Santa with white hair - handed me an envelope, and hugged me," she said. "He wouldn't even give me his name."
She said the family had also received money or gifts from her employer, Aramark Education; the school community; the Red Cross; the Westtown-East Goshen Regional police association; the Marple Junior Tigers, a football and cheerleading group; and neighbors and friends of neighbors.
"It's just been amazing," she said. "I hope I'm not forgetting anyone."
Less than 24 hours earlier, Cupaiuolo said, she could never have imagined what occurred.
She recalled calling her husband to tell him about the fire and getting his voice mail. She said she was apparently so distraught that she put her phone away without turning it off.
Thursday night, her husband played the message, which included her plaintive screams about the dogs and the Christmas gifts as she watched the flames.
"I'm not ready to listen to that," she said.
Instead, she said, the family is focused on gratitude.
"We are really so very thankful for all these angels and Santas who have surrounded us," she said. "We are truly blessed."