He stood in his bare feet as he watched his home burn. The man, one of three residents of a multi-family house on E. 82nd Street in Cleveland, was awakened by firefighters pounding on his door just after dawn Monday morning, and fled with no shoes or socks on his feet.
Two other residents, Therens Vitanzan and Larry Anderson also escaped. All three received financial assistance from the Red Cross, to help them with their immediate needs; a safe place to stay, a warm meal, and for one of the residents, shoes.
“That’s why we go,” said Disaster Program Manager Jeremy Bayer of the Greater Cleveland Chapter. “People who just lost their home, all their possessions, they need our help and the hope we can give them during their darkest hour.”
In addition to financial aid, the suddenly homeless residents received a small plastic bag filled with personal items like a toothbrush, toothpaste and soap.
Mr. Vitanzan, who was wrapped in a blanket, sat quietly in a van that doubles as an intake office at disaster locations, while Walter Reddick, a Red Cross volunteer, offered what comfort he could. Walter also helped Mr. Anderson, who was grateful to escape from his burning home with his prized possession: his guitar.
Photo credit: Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross
In the coming days, all three residents will receive follow-up care from Red Cross case workers, who will help them develop a plan for recovery from the fire that forced them from their homes.
They were fortunate to escape without suffering serious injuries.Fire experts agree that people may have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home before it’s too late to get out. Seven times a day, someone in this country dies in a home fire.
Incidents like this highlight the importance of having working smoke alarms in every residence in Northeast Ohio, and the Red Cross is ready, willing and able to install free smoke alarms and provide valuable fire safety information to residents in their homes. Northeast Ohio residents can visit the Operation Save-A-Life website to contact their local Red Cross chapter and schedule an appointment for a free home safety inspection, free smoke alarms and free installation.
It’s our goal to reduce the number of deaths and injuries due to home fires by 25% over a five-year period. Last year, the Red Cross and its partners saved at least 102 lives as part of its nationwide Home Fire Campaign, and in Northeast Ohio, 12 lives were saved and more than 12,500 free smoke alarms were installed in homes throughout the Region.