HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) - At least 30 people lost their homes this weekend in two separate apartment fires. The high volume put some extra stress on American Red Cross resources.
The executive director says the number of people displaced is unusually high for this time of year.
The first fire started Friday at the Jersey Park apartments in Smithfield. The second fire burned through an Oyster Point complex in Newport News Saturday night.
"You see this stuff on TV, but you never actually think you're going to be in this situation," said Scott Cox, an Oyster Point resident.
His neighbors said they banged on doors to get everyone out of the complex safely.
"I grabbed the kids, grabbed the puppy and just tried to get out," said Cox. "I don't have a coat on, don't have shoes on."
And when they found themselves with nothing but the clothes on their backs, the American Red Cross was already there to help the 22 people who needed food and shelter.
"It went really well for something as big as this," said Heather Livingston, the executive director. "Because 22 units is very large for our geography."
Livingston says the damage from the Newport News fire was worse than the damage at a similar apartment fire in Smithfield, but the burden on the Red Cross was less because most of the Newport News residents had renters' insurance.
"If you've thought through, something really can happen to me, including a fire in this wonderful apartment complex, renters' insurance makes a lot of sense," said Livingston.
Effie Wooten didn't have insurance. She escaped the Smithfield fire.
"I forgot all about stop, drop and roll," she said. "I just ran."
Wooten noticed the flames after a neighbor asked for water to help put them out.
"She came over and asked for some water and we was trying to get her some water, but when we came and looked out, it was already smoking," said Wooten.
Wooten is just one of four families now dependent on the Red Cross until they can find a new home.
"Hampton Roads is a big enough area that there's something going on all the time, and they just don't all make the media, but we always need assistance," said Livingston.
The Red Cross gets large donations for big events like hurricanes, but in years like this one, sometimes the cost of small scale fires can really add up. They say the best way to protect yourself, ahead of time, is to have renters' insurance.
Officials say the Newport News fire was caused by a cigarette that was not discarded properly. They say the Smithfield fire was started by children playing with a candle.
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