Red Cross Responds to Busy Fire Season

By Mallory Lane

Published 02/09 2014 08:14PM

Updated 02/09 2014 11:45PM

CENTRE COUNTY - It has been a rough season for fire. In fact, the Red Cross says it's one of their busiest winters ever.

It's been a busy season for fire crews across Central PA, too. John Emerick's team at the DuBois Volunteer Fire Company have responded to four house fires so far this year, already two more than last winter.

He says their biggest one so far happened Saturday.

"Out of the four, this was the major fire," Chief Emerick said. "The other fire we've had this year was a garage fire, which was caused by a wood burner."

Emerick says it's no surprise as cold as this winter has been so far.

"It seems like the calls have been up, especially in the Clearfield/Jefferson county area," he said. "I've heard a lot of flue fires going. With the amount of cold, I think people have been using that kind of heat a lot more."

Fire crews aren't the only ones affected by the unusual spike in fire calls.

"In January, our region, the Central PA region, we responded to 91 families who were displaced by fire," Red Cross Regional Communications Manager, Kathy Smyser, said. "Just in the month of January."

Smyser works with volunteers in the Central PA chapter of the American Red Cross. She says 91 families is three times the normal number the Red Cross helps in a whole year, and it's only the beginning of February.

"It's absolutely crazy," she said. "Our volunteers have been going out multiple times."

Smyser says the costs to help displaced families include groceries, clothing, often a place to stay until they can find alternate housing.

She says funds are running low.

"They are costly to respond to. We are currently running our Fire Hurts campaign," Smyser said. "The campaign has two purposes. One, to spread fire safety tips, but the other is to help keep those funds full so when people need help, we can be there."

To learn how you can help the Red Cross and for tips to keep yourselves and your homes safe this winter, visit the Red Cross Fire Hurts website.

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