The community of Cambridge has come together to make sure victims of that massive fire on Dec. 3 have a home for the new year. For one family affected by the blaze, the chance to rebuild was a gift from their neighbors.

“The fire was just going up, the firefighters were trying to put the fire out," Fnan Mesmer explains. "I saw my dad outside just looking at the house like deteriorating, you know, just no value to it.”

Mesmer remembers the frantic call from her sister when the fire broke out. By the time she rushed home to the apartment she shared with her father and two siblings, all she could do was watch helplessly as flames consumed their building. They lost everything.

Former Cambridge Mayor Anthony Galluccio says he raced to the scene when he heard the call.

"When I got down there, I hadn’t seen anything like that, just in terms of the width and the area that was affected," Galluccio says. "I mean, it was the whole neighborhood evacuated. It was just, it was devastating.”

The damage left 44 families homeless. The biggest challenge for the Mesmer family was finding another three- or four-bedroom apartment while they stayed at a local hotel. But Galluccio was determined to help.

“Three-bedrooms are really hard, and I knew that was going to be the battle ... there’s not a lot of stock, and never mind in December,” he says.

Through calls, letters, emails, and conversations, Galluccio got a landlord to rent to the family at a price they could afford. Mesmer is very grateful, she says: “If he didn’t help us out, we definitely wouldn’t have gotten a place that we liked.”

Placing families has been a team effort, according to City Manager Louis Depasquale, with help from a fire fund set up by the mayor’s office that’s topping $1 million.

“We had 44 families that we had to find permanent replacement housing for," Depasquale says. "Today we’ve replaced 27 of those.”

Depasquale is confident everyone will be placed by the end of January 2017, he says. The city fund is also helping to furnish new apartments.

Despite all of the kindness, the past month has been a roller coaster ride for Fnan Mesmer and her family.

“Everything. I lost everything — all the pictures, all the childhood memories. We’ve lived there since we were five years old. It’s a tight-knit community. Also, all my neighbors. Just thinking I’ll never have that again””

But a new home, even an empty one, has given them hope.