Red Cross working to help victims of three weekend apartment fires

Red Cross working to help victims of three weekend apartment fires

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The early morning hours in Ridgeland were cold for the fire crews that fought the apartment fire at Van Mark Apartments, but more so for the people who were displaced in that apartment fire, one Sunday afternoon at Ridgeland Ranch, and one over the weekend in Hattiesburg.

The Red Cross says that between those three fires, they’re trying to meet the needs of around 80 people.

“The first one was at Ridgeland Ranch that happened around 2 p.m.," said fire chief Matt Bailey. "We were on that fire for probably about four hours or so, and the second fire was this morning around 3:30 and we got off that about four hours or so.”

Fire officials have isolated where both of these fires started, but they don’t yet know what caused the fire. Some of the neighbors at Van Mark said they believe it started with a grill on a balcony in the top left apartment.

“We were told that there was a grill left on over night and it lit on fire," said Tayona Collins. "It came up to the first building that caught flames and then to ours.”

Red Cross Spokeswoman Tameca Jeuitt said the heartbreak is compounded in many ways in an apartment fire.

“A lot of times, you can imagine, maybe the fire didn’t start at your home and you’re a victim of the circumstance,” she said. “A lot of times we deal with people who are caught off guard and don’t have renters insurance, and so the need goes up because there are so many items that need to be replaced and they weren’t prepared for that.”

Ridgeland Fire Inspector James Stokes said in the next few days he will be digging through the rubble trying to find the causes of both of the Ridgeland fires. He said it’s a strange feeling to know you’re actually sifting through someone’s life to find the answers that they need.

“You want to help as much as you can with the process to make sure you get the answers right, so it does feel kind of strange at times but we do our best to get through it and get it done for them,” he said.

If you would like to donate or volunteer with the Red Cross to help with those displaced in these three fires, contact your local Red Cross office. In the Metro area, call the Flowood office at 601-353-5442.

Also, if you need a smoke detector or need the batteries on yours checked, authorities encourage you to call your local fire department or Red Cross office.

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