After Escaping Home Fire, Family Finds ‘Great Help’ from Red Cross

Christine Stevens was making coffee on a September morning when her Cleveland home caught fire.

As the smoke alarm sounded, Stevens and her teenage son and daughter fled to safety. The Cleveland Fire Department put out the blaze, but the family was suddenly left homeless with no immediate return in sight. A sparking electrical box caused the fire, and firefighters advised that the wiring for the house—which Stevens rented—needed to be brought to code.


“I was scared,” Stevens said. “Where am I gonna live? What am I gonna do?”

She learned that the American Red Cross was on the way to offer help, which “kinda calmed me down.”

Upon arriving, Red Cross Disaster Program Specialist Emily Probst and volunteer Mike Gaynier met with the family, providing snacks, personal hygiene items, initial financial assistance and the reassurance of follow-up support for their recovery.

Photo credit: Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross

Stevens, whose family is staying with her mom and a friend, was grateful for the Red Cross assistance to help get back on her feet.  “They gave me some money [and] gave me some food and toiletries, which is a great help,” she said.

All Red Cross disaster assistance is free.  We rely on the generosity of donors to respond to families like Christine’s.  If you’d like to donate to disaster relief, log onto and click donate, or call 1-800-RED CROSS.  You can also text the words RED CROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

October is National Fire Prevention Month.  It’s a great time to safeguard your family against home fires.  To receive a free home fire safety inspection, information about preventing home fires, help with creating an escape plan, and free smoke alarms for your home, log onto our Operation Save-A-Life page.

Residents of Cleveland can call 216-361-5535. Akron-area residents can call 330-535-2030.

And you can download the Red Cross Emergency App, which has helpful information about preventing home fires.



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