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Family reunion goes on despite mysterious fire at historic Taunton home

Just eight days after a fire gutted a historic home in Taunton, a family reunion is still being held on the property where the house once stood. (WJAR)

Just eight days after a fire gutted a historic home in Taunton, a family reunion is still being held on the property where the house once stood.

It's been a year in the making, with too many moving parts to cancel.

But investigators still haven't been able to determine what caused a fire on Aug. 3 that completely destroyed the 1890s house, which dates back to the Williams Family, some of the original settlers of Taunton.

One of the co-owners of the house and property, Gary Kingston, said there has been no definitive reason on a cause.

“We thought it might have been electrical initially,” Kingston told NBC 10 News. “We talked to the police. They're thinking it might even have been arson. It started certainly on the outside porch.”

Even so, nearly 100 extended family members are showing up from North Carolina, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, for the annual summer reunion. It’s the first time ever in 44 years it’s being held up here.

“My Aunt Linda is a powerful person,” said Anthony Melton, who is visiting for the weekend from Smithfield, North Carolina. “So, she gives everyone in the family support. And it's great that the family's still coming to support her.”

Kingston was working on an installation project for Raytheon on the Cape the week of the fire. Only by chance did he come home that night to swap out cars.

His wife Linda was there, and her cousin Jean, up from the Bronx to get ready for the party.

“I think just by the grace of god that I was there and woke up with the alarm and woke up my wife because I'm just afraid she just never would have heard it,” Kingston said. “And, like, in 45 seconds the lights went out, we lost the power, it went dead silent, and the house started filling up with smoke.”

Jean Ahmed was interviewed by NBC 10 at the scene that night, while the fire was still burning and being doused by Taunton firefighters.

“It's all gone now,” she said at the time. “But the good news is thank god we're all alive and no fatalities.”

Fortunately, Kingston said, the family had full insurance coverage on the house. That'll allow for complete replacement of the old one, a classic Victorian, maybe not an exact duplicate, but it’s close.

They're living in a modular home on the property, looking forward to the new construction. Besides that, two other original structures remain on the 1.6 acre spread, surrounded by huge trees.

But by Friday afternoon, they were rolling out the red carpet for this occasion, that will roll into the night, focused on family.

When asked about how she feels with extended family all around, in light of the loss of the main house, hosting the reunion for the first time, Linda Kingston said, “From the beginning, we were not going to disappoint.”

The party must go on.

“That's right!,” said Linda, doting on her guests, making sure the party is a success.

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