VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Seven people were displaced as the result of a residential fire in the 300 block of 22nd Street at Virginia Beach’s Oceanfront Friday.
Mary Upham is one of the seven people without a home after the fire. She and her husband, Tony were at their home Saturday afternoon picking up their belongings to bring to the Airbnb they’re temporarily staying in.
Mary said her mother, uncle, niece, husband, and grandniece were all living in the same home. She said the fire started in her uncle’s room on the second floor and spread to his mattress. Thankfully, he wasn’t in bed but was sitting in a chair in the bedroom.
Tony was in the kitchen at the time and said he ran into the room and brought the bed to the bathroom shower to douse the flames. He said that made it worse and the fire started spreading.
After that, he started getting his family out of the house along with the help of some others. Workers from the restaurant across the street, 21st Street Seafood Company, ran over after they said they saw smoke from the window.
One woman was sitting at the bar inside and said a cook called 9-1-1 as she and restaurant workers helped get the Upham’s pets from the burning building. She said one waitress even made a makeshift leash out of her shoelaces to keep the dogs safe until help arrived.
The Virginia Beach Fire Department responded around 5:21 p.m. and reported seeing light smoke when they arrived. Crews had the fire under control within 20 minutes, and one occupant was evaluated on the scene but declined further care, the fire department said.
Mary said the Red Cross arrived just minutes after they were notified of the fire. She emphasized that she’s so grateful for the help they’ve been providing from getting them a place to stay to giving them funds to get everything her elderly mother and uncle need.
A GoFundMe is available to help the family find a new home. The leftover funds will be donated to the Red Cross.