BRISTOL, Va. - The Red Cross in Bristol Virginia and Kingsport have been busy taking calls and helping people who have lost everything in a fire. The Bristol, Virginia Fire Department tells us they've also had an increase in calls.
Dozens of people in Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee have experienced their home in flames and losing everything inside. "My heart goes out to them, because it is so deviating for them," says Patty Tauscher with the Bristol, Virginia Red Cross.
Patty Tauscher is the Bristol Red Cross' Disaster Program Manager. She says they've seen an increase in fires during the winter months already. "We've really had a lot of fires since September in our jurisdiction in our area," adds Tauscher.
Since September 1 the Red Cross in Bristol has helped in 40 single family fires and 6 apartment fires. Tauscher tells us they've helped around 71 households and they've spent more than $35,000 to help those families. Tauscher tells us they try to meet the family's immediate emergency needs, "[We] make sure they have a place to stay temporarily for shelter, food, and clothing, and of course in the winter months we try to make sure they have coats," says Tauscher.
In Kingsport the Red Cross has helped in 59 fires and served 56 people since September 1.
The Bristol, Virginia Fire Department has also had an increase in their number of fire calls from October 1 until December 1 -- they had 32 fires. "Basically because of heating appliances, cooking, decorations," says Bristol, Virginia Assistant Fire Chief Gary Estep.
Estep says to make sure you have working smoke alarms and to keep furniture away from heaters. "When the temperature does drop low enough for those heaters to cut on, then you have a lot of overheating of the devices or the furniture that's close by," adds Estep.
Meanwhile, the Red Cross says they are here to help anyone in need no matter your income. Tauscher tells us they help families with and without insurance.
Tauscher tells us they still need additional volunteers and donations to help them serve the families in need. If you would like to volunteer or donate click here for more information. You can also send money to the local chapters.