Red Cross responds to string of apartment fires while also helping flood victims

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Officials with the American Red Cross say helping flood victims has been a monumental task, but they were thrown a real curve ball this week with three apartment fires in the last five days.

First, nine apartments were damaged in a fire on Stan Ave. last Thursday. Then on Saturday, eight units at the Chateaux Dijon Apartments on Essen Ln. caught fire. To top it off, 16 apartments were destroyed by a fire at the Bon Carre Court Apartments on Titian Ave. Monday night. In all more than 100 people needed new places to live and other critical aid.

Red Cross spokesman Greg Roques says the biggest challenge is continuing their work with flood victims while simultaneously helping the families that are in need following the fires. In practical terms, it means reassigning case workers from flood recovery issues to fire recovery issues, with the worry of
negative effects on the flood recovery, but Red Cross representatives say they can do it.

"As we're continuing to respond to the disasters that happened earlier, we're also still able to respond to any disasters that may go on in the community," Roques said.

Organizations that provide backup to the Red Cross are also feeling the pinch, with the latest events taking a toll on local volunteers as well. The Emmanuel Tabernacle Church served as a shelter for flood victims multiple times last year, and they opened their doors once again to victims of the Bon Carre fire victims this week. They continue to try to find permanent housing for every family, a task made harder with most housing taken up by flood victims.

"No space whatsoever, so it's very hard," said Margo Wilson, an associate pastor with the church. "That's why it's taking so long, but hopefully in a couple of days everybody will be where they're supposed to be."

Rocques says for now, the Red Cross has enough volunteers, but they could use other donations such as financial support, food, and other products for struggling families. The Red Cross also wants people to be aware of fire prevention safety.

Below is a list of checkpoints that homeowners can go through:

  • Stay in the kitchen while frying or grilling food, or using an open flame
  • Keep furniture, curtains, dish towels, or anything that could catch fire at least three feet from any type of heat source
  • Never smoke in bed
  • Make sure appliances are plugged directly into wall outlets
  • Have a working smoke detector

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