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Since December 28th, the Southern Missouri Region of the Red Cross has helped 116 people with aid in more than 11 counties.
All of the incidents were single family fires expect for one—a multi-family fire in Greene County.
Nigel Holderby is spokesperson for the Southern Missouri Region of the Red Cross. She says the request for help by fire victims has increased over the last 12 months, and the number so far this year is right on track with that. She’s not sure why, but she has an idea…
"A lot of people in the past, you know, may have had insurance. Maybe there is a larger number of people that are calling us because of economic reasons or there's even been the drought, you know, the fact that it's been so dry and everything is just really dry. But one of the things that, as Red Cross, we don't respond to every fire that happens. We respond when there's a need and when we're called, so we've just seen that that need has been growing a lot," she said.
People who lose their homes to a fire can count on the Red Cross to help them out with things like money for a place to stay, food, medicine, clothes and more…
"When we respond to a fire we immediately, you know, we take with us blankets and things to help make people comfortable especially in this cold as people are there, and they don't have anything but the clothes on their back, we obviously want to provide for that. We also provide an emergency card that has a cash amount on it," she said.
Unfortunately, the organization's efforts to help those in need have been hampered somewhat by the theft of a Red Cross vehicle. Someone stole a pickup truck that was warming up on a Red Cross employee's driveway Tuesday morning near Sunshine and Oak Grove. The truck, a large 2010 silver Chevy Silverado, is used to carry material to victims of house fires and other disasters.
Holderby says it’s important for people to be prepared in case their homes catch fire. She says this is Fire Prevention Month—a perfect time to focus on safety tips.
If a fire occurs in your home, get out, stay out and call for help.
Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Test them every month and replace the batteries at least once a year. 65 percent of home fire deaths occur in structures with no working smoke alarms.
Talk with household members about a fire escape plan and practice the plan twice a year.
The Springfield Fire Department offers free home safety surveys, and homeowners in the city limits can get a free smoke alarm installed. The fire department also will replace smoke alarm batteries for renters and homeowners in Springfield at no cost. For more information, 864-1500.
To make a donation to help the Red Cross provide assistance to fire victims, visit redcross.org.