Fire leaves 19 homeless

Sep. 06, 2013 @ 05:41 PM

The Union County chapter of the American Red Cross works to help 19 people left homeless after a fire Thursday night.

Around 11 p.m., Monroe firefighters responded to a fire at the Icemorelee Street Apartments in units 1618-A, 1618-B, 1620-A, and 1620-B.

The cause of the fire is believed to have been accidental and is still under investigation. They have ruled out any criminal act being associated with the fire, Kevin Rigoli, fire marshal and division chief of the Monroe Fire Department, said.

"It burnt the roof off of 1618 and fire then got into the structure of 1620," Rigoli said.

Each of the apartments was occupied at the time of the fire but everyone was able to get out safely. Flames were coming through the roof when firefighters arrived. The fire took about 40 minutes to control and damaged much of the attic space of the apartment buildings. The fire didn't harm a lot of the belongings of the apartments' residents but there was a lot of water damage to their property as firefighters worked to put out the fire, he said.

Latrese Williams was at home with her four children in apartment 1618-B at the time the fire started.

Her children are ages 2, 4, 10, and 12 and were in bed when she was notified about the fire, she said.

"I didn't smell any smoke, my neighbor came and knocked on the door and just was yelling grab your kids and get out of the house, the house is on fire," she said.

She and all her children along with others living in the nearby apartment units were able to get out safely. Since the fire, she and her family have been helped by the American Red Cross and Friday were staying in a hotel. As of Friday morning, she was not certain what their next steps would be. From the damage the fire caused, it appears they lost a lot of their belongings, Williams said.

"I'm just thankful that we were able to get out in time and no one was hurt," she said.

Though they lost a lot in the fire, their belongings can be replaced, she said.

"We can replace material things but I'm just glad everyone got out safely," she said.

The American Red Cross is working to help each of the 19 people left homeless by the fire and have since set them up in a hotel to stay in, Sheila Crunkleton, community chapter executive of the Union County American Red Cross, said.

"We're going to take care of their basic needs, food, shelter, so we put them into a hotel at that point and then we start on our case work side to determine what their needs are going to be," she said in reference to the assistance the organization provides.

In all four cases of the apartments affected by the fire, it appears to have been total destruction. The 19 people affected are each going to need clothing and food. To help them, the American Red Cross will provide them with something similar to a credit card that has a certain amount of money on it to help them with food and other needs. The organization will then work with them on where they are going to live next. The Red Cross is also working with the apartment complex, which is looking into different options and possibly moving the 19 people affected into other units, Crunkleton said.