How you can help a fire victim recover

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Last week, four fires changed the lives of four south Mississippi families. Two of those fires were in Waveland. One was in Biloxi. The other was in Gulfport. In each instance, families lost personal property, and a roof over their heads. Firefighters from each municipality quickly arrived to save whatever they could.

A short time later, the American Red Cross arrived. Its efforts were focused on helping the families get on with their lives. Since July 1, 2010, the Red Cross has responded to 160 fires. And in that time, it's spent more than $90,000 on food, clothing, and short term housing for fire victims.

And now, Paige Roberts of the American Red Cross says, "The most active response time for home fires" is about to begin. The combination of cold weather, and holiday accidents makes November through February a high activity period for fire departments and for the Red Cross.

A campaign called Friend a Fire Family enlists the help of community, faith-based, and civic organizations to assist neighbors as they recover from home fires. That campaign is run by the Red Cross.

Paige Roberts will be on the 4 O'clock Show today to discuss the campaign, and how you can help.

This is information Roberts sent to WLOX News from the American Red Cross about fires, and the Friend a Fire Family campaign:

• The biggest disaster threat to families across our nation every day isn't floods, hurricanes or tornadoes; it's fire. On average, the American Red Cross responds to more than 63,000 fires each year. That's about 170 responses a day, or one every eight minutes.

• Home fires can strike quickly and without warning, devastating lives and property. But unlike other disasters, most home fires can be prevented.

• The Red Cross is committed to giving people the information they need to reduce their risk of home fires, and to helping people recover after a fire happens.

• At any time of day or night, trained Red Cross volunteers respond to the scene of fires to provide food, shelter, and emotional support to those affected.

• On average, in Mississippi, the American Red Cross responds to five homes fires everyday of the year. The cost to serve a family of four is about $1,200. In order to best meet our clients' needs, we have created a grassroots fundraising initiative: Friend a Fire Family!

• This program encourages community members to help meet the immediate need of a family affected by a home fire.

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