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Arizona sees 20% increase in home fires

KOLD News 5-5:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Apr. 7, 2022 at 5:53 PM MST|Updated: Apr. 7, 2022 at 7:53 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - An increase in home fires across Arizona is leaving many families without a place to go.

American Red Cross volunteers say home fires have increased 15-20% this year.

During the hottest parts of the year, they typically see a jump in home fires, but this year is more than they expected.

″The overarching need is finding them a place where they’re going to go to next. What is their new norm going to be?” said Jim Harms, Red Cross volunteer partner to the disaster program manager.

Families in southern Arizona facing the unimaginable after loosing their homes in a fire. Harms says they’ve seen an increase in new clients across the board.

″Since the beginning of the year, here we’ve helped 1,545 clients and issued out an excess of $369,000,” he said.

Harms says there’s no direct link they’ve seen to the increase in home fires. He believes it could be several things, from AC maintenance issues to leaving appliances unattended. But he says, no matter the cause, Red Cross volunteers are ready to jump in and help residents.

“We screen them, we open up cases, and they qualify for financial assistance. It’s a little bit of money to help them for the next three to five days to just start the recovery process,” he said.

Red Cross has teams available 24/7 for home fires alone, but their volunteers are stretched thin. Just like other organizations, Red Cross lost a number of volunteers during the pandemic.

″We could always use more volunteers. A lot of people don’t realize that Red Cross is 95% volunteers. So people like myself and other people in this office, we volunteer our time to help others,” he explained.

And as Red Cross gets into wildfire season prep and flood season prep, they highest need for volunteers is for disaster action team members, shelter workers, and blood donor ambassadors.

If you experience a home fire and need assistance from red cross, you can contact 1-800-RED-CROSS option two.

And if you would like to volunteer with Red Cross, you can find more information here.

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