Help Needed in the Triangle to Respond to Home Fires

On average, the American Red Cross responds to more than 63,000 home fires a year, that’s one every eight minutes!

In November, the number of fires in the Durham area was up 59% over last year. With the increased number of fires that are occurring in the area, that means volunteers and funding for relief efforts are running low.

The Triangle Red Cross was recently featured on ABC 11 News and in The Herald-Sun for our relief efforts of home fires in the triangle area. The stories we were featured in allowed us to show the growing need for volunteers and funds during this time.

ABC 11 news reporter, Fred Shropshire interviewed our Regional Executive Director, Barry Porter, about the work the Triangle Red Cross is doing to help the more-than 170 families that have lost their home to fire.

“We, as an organization nationwide, always respond to disasters, sometimes if we don’t even have the funds,” Porter said.

With this increase in fires that means we must provide more shelter, food, supplies and money for these victims. A central mission of the Red Cross is to respond with help to families who have been burned out of their homes.

Lu Esposito, Regional Communications Officer for the Red Cross, told The Herald-Sun, “The teams arrive and talk with the family. They try to provide them with emotional support and the feeling that they’re going to be OK and that we’re there to support them. We help them through their recovery.”

She said the work is hard, but worth the effort.

“It’s the most rewarding work I’ve ever done – to drive up to a fire as a Red Cross volunteer, see a family that’s pretty much lost everything and know that you’re their lifeline to the future,” Esposito said.

The Red Cross provides fire victims with food and clothing as well as short term housing. “We provide financial help so that they’re empowered and doing those things for themselves that make them feel like they’re in control,” Esposito said.

We love doing this work to help fire victims in their time of need. We can always use more volunteers and donations to help get them back on their feet.

To volunteer, donate or for more information visit our website:

Unlike other disasters, most home fires can be prevented. Here are some tips and facts to help prevent fires in your home:
Cooking fires are the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries. And, two out of three cooking fires start with the range or stove.

  • Heating fires are the second leading cause of home fires.
  • Smoking is the leading cause of home fire deaths.
  • In 2005, 74 percent of home fire deaths occurred in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. Make sure you have working smoke alarms and replace the batteries regularly.
  • In 2006, a home fire was reported every 80 seconds, and someone dies from a home fire every 204 minutes.
  • Fires kill more Americans each year than all natural disasters combined, and affect people from all backgrounds and geographic locations.
  • Have a family disaster plan and have practiced it.
  • Have an emergency preparedness kit.

Story by: Adam Cheek
NCSU Red Cross Intern

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