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Red Cross lends aid to Fox Lake fire victims


A fire that destroyed several residences at Fox Lake apartment complex Saturday, Aug. 11, was the largest Red Cross has been called to in Knoxville in many years.

Chris Davis, director of public relations for the local Red Cross, said, “It’s the largest fire we’ve seen in almost exactly three years. It was August 2004 when we saw a big apartment fire in Bearden off Lonas Road.”

In a press release, Rural Metro Fire Department said investigators determined that the cause of the blaze was attributed to a gas-cooking grill on an apartment balcony. Flames spread up the side of the apartment building and entered the attic area. From there, the structural damage became so heavy that the roof collapsed and destroyed the majority of the building leaving many residents homeless.

“The fire happened around seven o’clock Saturday night, give or take. Red Cross responded probably within about an hour, and there were a good half-dozen emergency response agencies there, which, by the way, did a great job,” Davis added in a telephone interview. “I think that as of [Aug. 14], we’d worked with 20 families, and that constituted 42 people. … We had 10 volunteers and three staff come in and help out, making sure [the families] had vouchers for food, clothing, and in three or four instances we got people some emergency medication that they lost in the fire that they needed. In a couple of instances [we provided] baby supplies, things like diapers, wipes, things like that. This is all along with personal items for everybody, things like toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, shampoo.”

In addition to providing assistance to the people affected, Red Cross volunteers made sure emergency responders were supplied with food and drink. Hamburgers, snacks and water were provided to workers.

Fox Lake’s management, he said, is also doing everything they can to help those displaced.

“Fox Lake was great to work with, because they were really helpful to the families. They actually put them in a motel for a couple of nights, in the Holiday Inn at Cedar Bluff,” he added. “At this point, most of the families are finding places to move into. Fox Lake has worked with other complexes to make sure these folks have the resources and means available to get back into them, and when they get back into them we’re going to be helping these families. The Red Cross will provide bedding.”

As far as how long motel rooms will be provided for these families, Davis said, “What we heard was indefinitely, but truthfully I don’t know that I’m the one to speak with on that. Fox Lake was the one that set it up. You typically don’t see that. The apartment complex, I’ll reiterate, was great. I do know they said they would work with the families as long as they need help.”

Red Cross’s role long-term will be minimal, Davis said.

“Essentially we are and always have been an emergency relief agency. We make sure in that first week they have food, a couple changes of clothing, they have those personal items so they can take steps to get back on their feet,” he said. “Now once they get into another place, we’re going to be helping them with bedding, making sure everyone has bedding.”

While the local Red Cross budgets for providing assistance for 200-plus individual home fires each year, the chapter does not budget for multiple-family apartment fires, as they are sporadic in nature. Anyone wishing to make a donation to support local Red Cross Disaster Relief is asked to call 865-584-2999 or visit www.knoxarc.org.

Messages left for Fox Lake management were not returned as of press time.

 

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