Neighbors work to help those affected by Gulfport apartment fire
GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Neighbors and a Gulfport church are reaching out to help the victims of a Monday night fire.
Four families are without a home or any belongings after the fire at Coast Village Apartments in Gulfport.
Sherry Ann Freeman knows what it’s like to lose everything in a fire. It happened to her as a child. So when she saw flames coming from a neighbor’s building last night, her first concern was everyone’s safety.
“I knew that the older ladies and the older gentleman who is downstairs, so I was trying to make sure everybody was out,” Freeman said.
Upstairs neighbors smelled smoke and a man who didn’t want to talk on camera said he went downstairs and tried to put out the fire. He then dragged an elderly man out of the apartment that was by then filled with flames.
“Some gentleman from out here had to pull him out. He did get burned pretty bad,” Freeman said.
Gulfport Fire Chief Billy Kelley said that man was taken to the University of South Alabama burn unit in Mobile, but the extent of his injuries was not known. Another second-story resident suffered a broken leg when she jumped from her apartment to escape the heavy smoke.
“Heavy fire from the first and second floor. We got a report from people on the scene of possible entrapment on the second floor, so our guys immediately laddered and got up,” Kelley said. “About that time, simultaneously, we had one occupant who jumped out the second-story window.”
In all, five people were treated at the hospital.
The next morning, Freeman’s attention turned to helping her neighbors.
“I made it my business. I really didn’t get no sleep last night because I was worried about the families, especially the ones who didn’t have nowhere to stay,” she said.
Freeman’s pastor from Progressive Baptist Church also reached out after he saw her video of the fire on Facebook. Together, they hope to give the families some help.
“We’re going to try to provide them with as much as we can, as far as clothes, food whatever we can,” Freeman said.
One of the residents stood in the cold rain Tuesday morning wearing flip-flops, his wife in shorts and wrapped in a blanket. Their son was too frightened to leave the warmth of their car.
“I don’t have much, but I offered if anyone wanted to stay they were welcome to stay because I can understand they have kids,” Freeman said.
Gulfport Fire Department contacted the Red Cross, which typically will provide families displaced by a fire with enough money to stay in a hotel for a couple of days. After that, as one resident said, “We have nothing right now except the clothes on our back.”
“I’m just out trying to help to get them some assistance because I know how it is to lose everything you have,” Freeman said.
If you can help the families you can bring donations to the Coast Village Apartments office on Oregon Drive or contact the Progressive Baptist Church in Gulfport.
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