Investigators say the fire was caused by a lightning strike.
Hagerstown, Md (KM). The American Red Cross is continuing its efforts to assist the victims of an apartment building fire in Hagerstown Tuesday night.
The Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office says about 100 fire fighters responded to 11565 Robinwood Drive just outside of the Hagerstown city limits, and spent 90-minutes bringing the flames under control. The three-story building contained 37 units.
All 74 residents were able to get out safely after notifying each other and the activation of a fire alarms. One person was treated and released for a pre-existing condition.
Investigators confirmed that lightning struck the roof of the apartment building, which set the roof and attic on fire. The fire was contained to the roof and attic, but they collapsed on the third floor. The first and second floors sustained water damage.
Beverly Stambaugh, the Executive Director of the Western Maryland Chapter of the Red Cross, saw the damaged apartment building on Wednesday. “Pretty much the whole top floor was burned off. Pretty dramatic. Surprisingly, the whole face of the building looks pretty good. But once you take a good look you’ll see the entire third floor is gone. Quite a big hole in the building,” she says.
The Red Cross says it was notified about the fire at around 8:49 PM on Tuesday. Stambaugh says personnel went right to work assisting the 74 residents who were displaced. “Mostly to do with housing for the evening, and any type of emergency services they may need, such as a little health kit or any type of information they might need to get through the next 24-hours,” she says.
A “clearing house” was set up by the Red Cross at a 7th Day Adventist Church along Robinwood Drive not too far from the apartment building. Stambaugh says anyone can drop off “non-monetary” items to help the families who were displaced. “Most of the clients that were affected did have insurance. So it’s meeting their basic needs for the next two to four days, just to make sure they have what they need to get by until their insurance can kick in and replace and get them back on their feet,” she says.
The Red Cross will also help connect these families with the services they need. “Whether they need clothing for their children, or they’re looking for another place to live, we will help connect them with resources in the community for housing and/or for clothing, or for any other assistance they may need,” says Stambaugh.
Because the loss of a home can be very traumatic emotionally, Stambaugh says the Red Cross can provide them with mental health services. “We have quite a few individuals who are trained, mental health caseworkers, who deal specifically with these types of incidents where individuals may have a longer impact mentally, emotionally, that might need assistance,” she says. “And we actually have trained staff that will speak and work with these clients to get them back on their feet and meet their needs.”
Stambaugh says some Red Cross volunteers from Frederick County also responded to this apartment building fire to provide assistance.
Anyone who wants to volunteer for the Red Cross, or wants to help out in other ways, can call 1-800-REDCROSS.
By Kevin McManus