Fires tax area Red Cross

Published 8:41 pm Thursday, February 23, 2012

Anyone doubting that recent colder weather increased the risk of house fires need only look at information from the Greater Pamlico Area Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Since Jan. 1, Red Cross volunteers have assisted four families affected by fires, and they recently responded after a fire in Chocowinity to assist a family of five that lost everything in that fire.

During 2011, chapter volunteers responded to a combined 25 fire-related cases in Beaufort, Hyde, Tyrrell and Washington counties. Those 25 fires affected 77 people who were living in the homes that caught fire. The Red Cross provided $16,846 in direct financial assistance to those families who lost their homes.

Disaster assistance is one of two congressionally mandated services provided by the Red Cross, which is not a government agency and does not receive federal funds. Each year, Red Cross volunteers nationwide respond to nearly 70,000 home fires, providing a place to sleep, food and clothing, if needed, to fire victims. These numbers come as the Red Cross prepares to launch its Heroes campaign during March, which is National Red Cross Month. Individuals, businesses and organizations may be declared Heroes for the American Red Cross when they pledge to raise $1,250 to sponsor a family of four that has lost everything to fire. The Heroes campaign helps cover the costs of disaster assistance, including the expense of equipment, training and preparations.

As the weather turns colder, the Red Cross urges residents to use caution as they are trying to keep warm. Space heaters should be kept away from flammable materials, and electric cords should be inspected for cracking or other damage signs. Be sure smoke alarms are in working order. More home-heating tips may be found at

The Greater Pamlico Area Chapter office is located in Washington at 135 N. Market St. Donations and volunteers are welcome always.