By SAVANNAH WILLIAMS
Capital News Service
ANNAPOLIS, Maryland – Quinten Maggio leaned against the wooden table in the back of the West Street Starbucks in Annapolis, just down the road from his new home. He wore brand-new clothes, brand-new shoes and carried a brand-new wallet.
To the casual onlooker, there was nothing out of the ordinary about this 22-year-old Coast Guardsman – but to those who know him, Maggio’s “newness” is indicative of a terrible loss.
In the dark hours between March 5 and March 6, everything Maggio owned went up in a rush of angry flames.
Maggio said he doesn’t know what caused the fire, but he’s well acquainted with its consequences.
“I know no one thinks something like this could happen to them,” Maggio said, sipping on his small green tea Frappuccino with whipped cream. “I definitely didn’t. I definitely didn’t expect to wake up to a fire taking all of my things away from me.”
When Maggio said all of his things, he meant it. Maggio was collected as he recalled the night of the fire,
when the room he was renting, and everything inside it, was destroyed.
Maggio said he was sleeping when the fire started, and the homeowner – one of the three people in the house at the time – ran in to wake Maggio, unintentionally startling him with urgent tones.
“I started fighting him off, and he explained there was a fire, and I needed to get out. I had only been in my boxers and a shirt, so I threw on my pants, and before I could even throw my shoes on, smoke had filled my room,” Maggio said.
Maggio got out without grabbing anything, in complete survival mode, and ran to warn his next-door neighbors. He said nobody was seriously injured.
“Within minutes, my room was completely filled with fire, and within another couple minutes, the entire house was just completely engulfed,” Maggio said. “Then, I was thinking, ‘Hey, maybe I should move my car,’ and I realized I had left my keys in my room – and then I realized I left my phone, and realized I left my wallet.”
Maggio said within half an hour, the fire had spread to his car.
“That’s when it dawned on me that I pretty much lost everything,” Maggio said.
Because Maggio, a Riverside, California, native, moved into the room with only two days’ notice in October, he said he didn’t think about purchasing renters insurance, and will have to replace the majority of his belongings out of pocket.
He’s not alone; according to an Insurance Information Institute poll (http://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/renters-insurance) conducted in 2016, only 41 percent of renters have renters insurance, even though 95 percent of homeowners have homeowners insurance.
Maggio said the only things covered in the damage were his cellphone and his car – but the insurance on his car only brought his balance to $0.
“If you include my car, I lost about $20,000 worth of things. It’s going to take a while (to get back to normal),” Maggio said.
It’s going to be some time before Maggio can replace his $1,500 gaming laptop and his $1,000 Epiphone Les Paul guitar, and some things (like the pictures of his family, skydiving memorabilia and boot camp souvenirs) can’t ever be replaced – but he said the help he’s received has changed his low expectations of society.
“When something bad like this happens, a lot of people come together and make things right for that person,” Maggio said. “That’s one thing I realized – I had a very low view on society as a whole, but when this happened and I got to see how amazing people could be, that was very humbling. It’s something I enjoyed experiencing, despite everything that happened, of course.”
Maggio’s section mate from the Annapolis Coast Guard station, 26-year-old Lee Acker, was just one of the people to reach out to him after the fire.
Acker, who said he’s known Maggio for about seven months, said he heard about Maggio’s situation when their station briefed the guardsmen before duty the next morning. He immediately called his wife, Alyssa Acker, 25, who went out and purchased Maggio a duffel bag full of essential clothes and toiletries.
“One of the things that we believe in … is: You see a need and you fill it,” said Acker. “Because of that, we were able to do what we could to try to give back and lessen a situation as much as we could. … We had means to do it, so we wanted to help.”
Acker also set up a GoFundMe page (https://www.gofundme.com/help-quinten-recover-from-fire-loss?ssid=973270172&pos=22”) to raise support for Maggio, asking for $2,000 to get him back on his feet. The account has raised more than $6,000 in the last month, three times Acker’s goal, which has helped Maggio to replace his car.
“The whole Coast Guard in general is one big family,” Acker said.
Baltimore Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Shane Swartz, 33, pooled together with the Chief Petty Officer Association and his real estate office, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services and PenFed Realty, to buy Maggio a new laptop after the fire.
Other guardsmen at Maggio’s station also put in hours of research to find a way to replace Maggio’s uniforms for free.
After the incident, Maggio is more careful to take precautions regarding his belongings.
It would have cost him $24 a month for renters insurance, which he has already purchased for his new place.
He offered some lessons he’s had to learn the hard way.
“Definitely get renters insurance, wherever you live,” Maggio said, and “get a fire-safe box to keep all your important documents in.”