Red Cross campaign helps victims of Las Vegas-area house fires

The Red Cross and the Professional Fire Fighters of Nevada have partnered for the fifth straight year to help families displaced by house fires.

The “Fire Hurts. Red Cross Helps.” campaign is raising money to provide families with a place to stay, food and clothing.

“The main purpose is to show families that they’re not alone going through this,” said Frank Rutkowski, public information officer for the Red Cross in Nevada. “The people will still see Red Cross volunteers as the debris and smoke start to settle.”

The Red Cross spent $202,507 to aid nearly 1,100 fire victims in Southern Nevada in 2016, and fire departments responded to 364 house fires, according to the Red Cross.

Angelo Aragon, president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Nevada, a union that represents about 1,850 firefighters statewide, said he’s optimistic the campaign can raise $350,000 this year.

“When we respond to a fire, it may be the most tragic event in that person’s life,” Aragon said. “So, for us, because of that commitment, we have a sense that we need to help these people.”

Rutkowski said there’s no limit to the amount of money families can receive when a fire occurs. It depends on the size of the family, the size of the house and what important items were left behind.

Some people, Rutkowski said, have been affected more than once.

A woman who lived in an apartment complex in northwest Las Vegas was among 40 people displaced March 27. Rutkowski recognized her at the scene of the fire.

“She was very appreciative,” Rutkowski said. “You hate to see people come to us twice for that service, but I’m happy we were there.”

Rutkowski said that with a house fire occurring every 20 hours in Southern Nevada, fundraising is crucial.

“It does put a drain on our resources,” he said. “We want to thank the people that help us out because the home fires don’t stop.”

Contact Danny Webster at dwebster@viewnews.com or 702-380-3834. Follow @DannyWebster21 on Twitter.

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