Fire victims in need of help

July 08, 2002|by MARLO BARNHART

From the confines of a motel room, Ernestine Nelson and her family are struggling to put their lives back in order after last Tuesday's devastating fire forced them from the apartment they shared.

They are grateful they got out alive but the three adults and one preteen only have the clothes they had on that day. All their household possessions are gone and there was no renter's insurance.

"The biggest thing we need is a place to rent with three bedrooms," Nelson said. "I guess we could get along with two bedrooms but three would be better."


Ernestine Nelson, her daughter Sharon, son Robert, and 11-year-old granddaughter Shaquitia have been looking but so far, nothing suitable has come their way.

The motel room was provided by the American Red Cross of Washington County, which came to the Nelsons' aid the night of the July 2 fire at their 36 E. Franklin St. apartment building.

"When you think you don't have any friends, you find you do," Ernestine Nelson said Sunday afternoon. "I went to church this morning and everyone was coming up and asking what they could do."

Friends have been helping Ernestine and her daughter get to their jobs and out to look for apartments.

Clothing is another big need. Those who have clothes to donate are being asked to call 301-739-6670 to find out where to take those items.

Robert Nelson wears size 9 to 91/2 medium shoes, 2x shirts and 36/36 pants.

Sharon Nelson takes a 51/2 wide shoe, junior medium shirts and junior miss size 5-6 pants.

Shaquitia Nelson needs size 6 to 61/2 shoes, junior medium shirts and junior miss size 3 pants.

Ernestine Nelson wears size 6 shoes, size 3, 4 or 5 pants, and medium shirts.

Tuesday's blaze was Hagerstown's second two-alarm apartment building fire in less than two months.

The fire was reported at 4:54 p.m. and was out within 25 minutes. Firefighters stayed on the scene until 7:48 p.m.

"The cause of the fire is under investigation, but it doesn't appear to be suspicious," Hagerstown Fire Marshal Doug DeHaven said Thursday. On Sunday night, DeHaven said no progress had been made in narrowing the cause.

The basement was gutted, and the first and second floors had heat and smoke damage. With no electricity in the building, it was declared uninhabitable, DeHaven said.

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