Almost everyday Chicagoans hear about a house fire in the news. It’s something that happens so often and impacts so few at a time that we tend not to give it too much attention. It’s disregarded as “another fire somewhere in the city”, but the story looks very different if you experience it personally. It’s not numbers you look at then, it’s the faces. And knowing that you’re standing in someone’s burned up home makes the fire very real and extremely scary.
Last week, I was on scene with Red Cross responders at a fire on Chicago’s south side. The blaze started at 1:30 p.m. in a two story home which housed a family of four. Within minutes, the flames got completely out of hand and swallowed up the entire structure. Three of the residents were not at home at the time, but unfortunately, the one person who was there, was trapped on the first floor bedroom. The firefighters soon came to his rescue and dragged him out, but not before he received serious burns and had inhaled a lot of the smoke.
When I arrived with the Red Cross disaster volunteer team, the house and the family were in a mess. The mother, Catalina, was desperately trying to salvage some items from the char ridden house. One of her sons, Marcelo, was in the hospital with serious injuries, and her other son, Jose, was pacing around the place with an expression of complete daze and confusion. The frame of the house was still standing but everything else was in ruins. There were big holes in the ceiling and the floors. The windows were out and all the furniture was badly burned.
The Red Cross volunteers sat the family down in their van, helped calm them down, listened to their story and comforted them as best as they could. They also provided them with assistance for food, shelter and clothing.
The immediate security that your donations provide to the victims of a fire help them recover from the shock of the incident, and gives them a warm and safe place to stay and collect their thoughts. Every little bit counts-ask someone who’s been through a fire.
Written by Maliha Sadiq