Community helps RH apartment fire victims

December 22, 2012 

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    Fifteen adults and three children lost belongings in the fire.

    The children are a boy 11; a girl 5; and a boy 1.

    The American Red Cross and apartment management officials will continue to collect contributions, including gift cards for department stores. All donations will go directly to the families from the volunteers.

Families burned out of their Yorktowne Village apartments Friday began moving to new homes Saturday as clothes, toys, money, and gift cards were donated by a community distraught over a fire just days before Christmas.

The fire destroyed an eight-unit building, leaving 18 people without clothes, furniture, and almost all other possessions.

A resident at another building noticed the fire Friday and alerted people inside, said Jean Pence, property manager at the apartments. Pence spent much of Saturday on the phone trying to find apartments for her tenants.

“The Christmas spirit was alive with that lady being an angel and it is alive today with all the nice people wanting to help,” Pence told a gathering at the apartment office Saturday.

The American Red Cross is helping the families with emergency housing, money, gift cards, and other assistance.

Raul Melo and his wife Caroline, along with their children Melissa, 5, and son Anthony, 1, hope to have a new place to live, yet lost much of what they had.

“We are OK, we have life,” Melo said.

Melo’s brother-in-law and sister and nephew Daniel, 11, lived in the same building. Like the other six families displaced, Saturday was a day to worry about finding a place to live and hoping for a Christmas miracle.

The cause of the fire at the apartments at 2172 Ebinport Road just west of India Hook Road remains under investigation, said Ben Funderburk, a battalion chief for the Rock Hill Fire Department.

Dan Osborne, a neighbor who lives in the complex, brought donations and talked about how many in the complex had gathered recently at a Christmas party.

“What we have to do right now is help these people any way that we can,” Osborne said.

Andrew Dys 803-329-4065

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