Spike in Home Fires Keeping Red Cross Busy

North Naples Fire Department Chief Orly Stolts looks on as his team fights a blaze at the Naples Bath and Tennis Club apartment complex in May.

Two home fire responses Wednesday added to an unfortunate and unusually high number of area home fires in recent weeks.

In the past three weeks, Red Cross volunteers in Lee and Collier Counties have responded to 14 single-family home or multi-unit apartment fires.

Two of the responses followed fires in apartment complexes in which multiple families were displaced. In most cases, the Red Cross provides emergency lodging, assistance for food and clothing along with referrals to United Way partner agencies.

Red Cross often provides comfort kits containing essential toiletries, stuffed animals for children. Emotional support is also an important part of any Red Cross response, whether it’s a hug, handshake or the comfort of a trained mental health volunteer.

“The services of the American Red Cross are like a safety blanket for our community,” said Heidi Ruster, CEO for Florida’s Southern Gulf Region. “The warmth of our amazing volunteers and services are available 24/7 and can expand and contract as the needs of our clients arise.”

Service to the Armed Forces

Along with the recent spike in home fires, the Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces department has also been busier than usual. In the past three weeks, SAF staff and volunteers have sent 24 emergency communication messages to military members and helped more than 20 military families and veterans with resources and relief.

The SAF team has conducted 10 “Get to Know Us Before You Need Us” briefings with military members and veterans in the past three weeks and is currently preparing for a series of events to help honor Memorial Day.

“It’s very important for the Red Cross to continue providing services to the armed forces no matter how large the need becomes,” Jeremy Gentile, SAF coordinator and AmeriCorps director.

Red Cross disaster relief services and services to the armed forces are always provided free of charge and are made possible by generous donations from local individuals and businesses. To learn more about supporting the Red Cross mission visit gulfcoastredcross.org or redcross.org.

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