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      Donation drive planned for family in house explosion

      Friends of a Pawtucket family that lost everything but their lives in an explosion are working together to help them get a fresh start.

      "Some donations were dropped off yesterday already, some diapers," Pedro Ayala, a family friend, said.

      The items will help Ayala's friend, Rubi Oliveras, and her family. They escaped a house explosion Tuesday in Pawtucket.

      After getting the call, Ayala and his friends rushed to the hospital. He didn't see the video of what happened until the next day.

      "It was like a movie and that's how she describes it as well. She was like, 'I was taking a shower and then boom,'" Ayala said.

      The blast tore apart an apartment house at 422 Mineral Spring Ave. Oliveras's boyfriend, Ruben Gonzalez, was severely burned trying to protect the couple's 9-month-old daughter. The baby and Gonzalez remained in the hospital Wednesday.

      Ayala hopes to host a donation drive Saturday at the Met School in Providence.

      The family needs clothing, baby basics and other essentials now that all of their belongings are in a pile of rubble.

      "As really good friends, we've really got to stick together," Ayala said.

      Pawtucket police and firefighters are wrapping up their investigation. After talking to witnesses and looking at the scene, they hope to determine what caused the blast.

      "It appears that it was in the kitchen area. As far as what appliance, I'm not sure," Pawtucket police Maj. Arthur Martins said.

      Ayala said he just wants to help his friend get back on her feet so that Gonzalez and the baby only have to worry about getting better.

      "She's a little fighter. Rubi told us yesterday that she was jumping and smiling," Ayala said.

      A Facebook page was also set up in support of the family.