Wednesday's fire in Clinton was the fourth fire the Mohawk Valley Chapter of the Red Cross responded to in two days. With the group's new fiscal year barely two weeks old, they're gearing up for yet another busy twelve months. Our Sarah Blazonis tells us about the services they've provided so far.
CLINTON, N.Y. -- "The whole top of the building was on fire," Ortagus McClure remembered as he stood in the parking lot of his charred and smoking apartment building. "It was smokey at first, and then the flame just came bursting through. I mean, we just knew that pretty much we were just going to lose everything. And we did."
It was a scary morning for Ortagus and his wife, Shanon. They and their four children were one of the families who awakened to neighbors pounding on the doors and windows of their unit in the Old Carriage House Apartments, telling them to get out.
"The whole hallway had black smoke everywhere, my son's yelling, 'Fire,' and all of us immediately went out the window. My husband grabbed our four-month-old baby," said Shanon McClure.
The McClures and five other families from the complex are now turning to the Mohawk Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross as they work to rebuild their lives.
"Some of the families have required lodging, as well as food and clothing," said Edith Buffalohead of the Red Cross.
The Clinton fire is the latest in a string of incidents the chapter has responded to since its fiscal year began on July 1. So far the group has helped 41 people affected by six separate incidents across the three county coverage area. These incidents have already cost the Red Cross $7,000.
"I think, since we're in day 11, we're probably progressing very quickly well above our budget for the month," said Buffalohead. "We will continue to meet the needs of the community, but we sure could use everybody's support."
Last year's increased need caused the chapter to go 25 percent over budget for the last fiscal year. Organizers said working with strained funds is common, and donations of time or money from the community are always welcome to help them better serve folks like the McClures.
For more information on how you can donate time or money to the organization, visit www.redcross.org.