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Maine family heartbroken after child dies in fire: 'He was the kindest, gentlest little boy'

The community is stepping up to help by raising close to $30,000 for the family

PARIS, Maine — The family of five-year-old AJ Packard is heartbroken after he died in a South Paris house fire Tuesday.

"He was the kindest, gentlest little boy," Packard's aunt, Amanda Morey, said.

Maine State Police said the fire broke out in the Packard home on Nichol Street around 2 p.m. Firefighters found AJ when they went inside the home. He was unresponsive and was rushed to the hospital where he died.

"Every time I close my eyes, I see his face," Morey said.

As Packard's family grieves, the community is stepping up to help. A fund on Facebook has raised more than $30,000 for AJ, his six siblings, and his parents. It will go towards funeral expenses and finding the family a new place to live.

"It's phenomenal. The Oxford Hills community always comes together in a time of need, and this is another example of that," Packard's cousin, Bobbi Fogg, said.

"Thank you just is not enough. It's not going to bring my nephew back, but it's going to make sure that my nieces and my other nephew will hopefully be able to have a place to call home come Christmas," Morey said.

The family said people can drop off small supplies at Cut Loose Hair Salon in Norway and at Opportunity Enterprise in Oxford.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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