Every day, the Red Cross helps people affected by home fires big and small. During 2021, for example, the Red Cross in South Dakota responded to more than 200 home fires and helped nearly 800 people.
Among them was Alisha Baudino and her son. On July 10, 2021, they were home and asleep when a fire started in the walls of the building where they rented an apartment on Stone Street in Lead, a small city founded after the discovery of gold in the northern Black Hills.
“I woke at 5 a.m. smelling smoke and just trying to figure out where it was coming from,” said Baudino. “I couldn’t see smoke or anything, but I could smell it.”
Alisha went outside and still she saw nothing. Miners working across the street saw flames and pointed them out to her. “They yelled there was fire so I turned around to get my son out of the apartment.”
The apartment was already filled with smoke. Thankfully her son, who had recently turned 18, made it out on his own. They then helped account for those living in other units.
“There ended up being 11 different fire companies. After that it was just downhill. There was nothing we could do about it. We just sat there and watched while they tried to get it out.”
The building originally was a single-family house later turned into five apartments. It was declared a total loss and demolished. Only items stored in the garage, like her son’s work tools, were spared from the blaze.
Community members rallied to help. The Red Cross responded as well within hours after the fire started. “The Red Cross was there immediately. It was really quick.”
The Red Cross assistance gave everyone options to help themselves do what each needed most. Alisha, for example, used some of the relief to pay for a hotel room for her and her son. From there, they went to a cabin rental found by a friend, and then to a house they’d already planned to move into at the end of July.
Since the fire, life is gradually getting back to normal. She has two full-time jobs and takes each day one at a time going from home to work and back again.
“We’re doing good just working, trying to put life back together slowly but surely.”
To support Red Cross disaster relief through volunteer service or financial donation, click here. To learn more about the Red Cross home fire campaign, click here.
Story by Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross. Photo by Richard Smith/American Red Cross.