THOMASVILLE, N.C. — As temperatures drop, the number of house fires tends to go up.
The Red Cross is one organization that tracks the number of fires, as it provides disaster relief assistance to families affected by fires. Executive Director of the Red Cross in the Piedmont John Hughes says Thanksgiving weekend alone had seven fires.
“On an annual basis, the American Red Cross across the country responds to about 70,000 disasters a year,” he said. “And out of those, 85 to 90 percent are fires.”
One of the weekend’s fires was on National Highway in Thomasville, where two homes were deemed “total losses.”
Residents of both homes did not have renters insurance. Mickey LaPradd lived in one of the houses with his four kids. He says he has been amazed by the response from the Red Cross.
“The Red Cross responded and the house was still on fire,” he said. “They were that quick.”
Red Cross assistance includes providing immediate needs such as shelter, clothing and food. Additionally, Red Cross will assist with finding long-term housing.
“They said if I found a place, they’d pay the first month’s rent,” LaPradd said. “That’s going to be pretty helpful.”
The Red Cross says the majority of the fires it sees during the winter months are because of unsafe heating practices, like using candles and leaving fires unattended. Using your stove or oven for heating is also unsafe.
The fire that burned LaPradd’s home was started from a space heater. Hughes with the Red Cross wants to remind people that all space heaters should be kept at least five feet away from any blankets and should not be left unattended with pets or children.