American Red Cross helps families displaced in fires

American Red Cross helps families displaced in fires

Posted:
Jennifer Bunch with the Red Cross delivered pizza to the families displaced by two separate fires in Oak Ridge since Thanksgiving day. Jennifer Bunch with the Red Cross delivered pizza to the families displaced by two separate fires in Oak Ridge since Thanksgiving day.
Jimmy Harper was displaced by a fire and said he believes the fire started in his apartment. Jimmy Harper was displaced by a fire and said he believes the fire started in his apartment.
Investigations into how both of these fires started are on-going. Investigations into how both of these fires started are on-going.

By SAMANTHA MANNING
6 News Reporter

OAK RIDGE (WATE) - Local volunteers for the American Red Cross are busier than ever after two separate fires in Oak Ridge left around 50 people displaced over the holiday weekend.

"I've not ever had to experience two large fires like this so close together," American Red Cross volunteer Jennifer Bunch said.

Bunch delivered pizza to the families now staying in a hotel following the fires Sunday afternoon. Bunch knows firsthand about what those families are going through. 

"I feel bad for them," Bunch said. "We lost our home to a fire six years ago so I know from experience how that feels."

The first fire happened at the Applewood Apartments on Thanksgiving day. It was caused by an electrical short in the main power supply.

According to the Oak Ridge Fire Department, around 25 people were displaced.

"It's scary," Applewood Apartments resident Brenda Licembee said. "You don't know what was going on or anything like that but I'm just thankful we're okay."

Saturday night, a second fire broke out at the McKenzie Acres Apartment complex, displacing another 25 people.

The ORFD said there was heavy fire damage to the apartment where the fire started and the surrounding apartments sustained both water and smoke damage.

"I kicked in the bedroom door and a gust of smoke came out. It was a real heavy dark smoke," resident Jimmy Harper said.

Harper said he believes the fire started in his apartment.

"Only thing I got out of there is a video game and a TV. Everything else, it burned down," Harper said.

The ORFD said they believe the fire was set intentionally, but the investigation is on-going.

Bunch said the public has shown a great deal of support in helping the displaced families.

"We've had so many people calling though, citizens to see what they can do to help so I think everyone will still have a good Christmas," Bunch said.

Anyone interested in making donations to help the families can contact the American Red Cross at 865-584-2999. Bunch said you must ask for disaster services when calling to ensure the donations are not put into the general fund.

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