Living after flames

Published 12:29 pm Saturday, October 25, 2008

Every day, there are millions who are left homeless due to natural and non-natural disasters. One of the top disasters that people fall victim to is house fires.

In the United States last year, there were 414,000 structure fires, including structures such as houses, apartments, sheds, barns and boathouses. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, out of those 414,000 fires there were 2,895 deaths, 14,000 injuries and over $7 billon in money loss.

Such high volume numbers for structure fires means there are a lot of people who have to deal with living in a partially burned home or have no home left to live in at all.

The American Red Cross is working to help these families through their difficult time. The non-profit organization has helped millions and is still working to make millions of more lives better.

“We try to do what we can to help people who have had to deal with a disaster in their life. We work to get people back on their feet,” said Betty Bird, director of the Chilton County Red Cross.

Chilton County may not have as large of a number compared to the national number of structure fires, but there are times when people in our hometowns need help, and the Chilton County branch of the American Red Cross has been there to support them.

One county resident found the American Red Cross to be a lifesaver after he caught his home on fire.

“I was heating up some grease to cook with, and I walked outside for something and forgot about it,” Charles Fondren said. “When I came back inside my home was filled with smoke.”

Although Fondren’s home had only heavy smoke damage, that was enough to cause him grief. He was forced to have his entire home professionally cleaned and some parts of his kitchen remodeled.

“It was a fire where not everything was lost, but it did about $2,800 worth in damages and that is a lot for someone like me to try and come up with,” he said.

The American Red Cross helped Fondren by giving him $100 to buy groceries and clothing/shoe vouchers to purchase clothes that were not damaged by the excessive amounts of smoke.

Whether a family is hit by a small fire like Fondren was or if it loses its home completely, the American Red Cross is there to help bring support and comfort.