SWATARA TOWNSHIP, Pa. (WHTM) — Nearly 50 people are without a home after an apartment fire in Dauphin County.

The cause of the fire was accidental — it took place while a resident in the building was cooking, according to Swatara Township Fire Chief Michael Ibberson.

The fire, which happened around 9 a.m. Sunday, caused severe damage to all 12 units in a Swatara Township apartment building in the 700 block of Garden Drive. The families who lived in those apartments are temporarily staying at a nearby fire department.

As of Monday morning, 21 people remain sheltered at the Chambers Hill Fire Company for the next two to three days until a long-term solution can be established.

“A lot of folks were displaced with just the clothes on their back,” Lisa Landis, director of communications for the Red Cross Greater Pennsylvania Region, said. “We have adults and children here who really have nowhere else to go.”

Get daily news, weather, breaking news, and sports alerts straight to your inbox! Sign up for the abc27 newsletters here. 

Landis said the Red Cross dispatched a team to help get emergency resources like food and clothes to those families.

“We’ve provided quite a number of diapers that have been needed,” she said.

Sunday night coverage:

The Red Cross is also turning the fire department into an overnight shelter.

“We’re also bringing in cots, additional blankets, and we’re working to secure not just this evening’s dinner, but tomorrow morning’s breakfast, lunch and so forth, as well as making sure that the children that were affected have means to get to school,” Landis said.

Landis said some families are in shock. Many of those displaced are young children.

“One little girl…she was in unicorn pajamas, and she shared with me that this morning she was very brave, she didn’t cry at all when the fire happened,” Landis said. “She said when she got outside, her hands were shaking an awful lot, but she’s very proud of herself and she’s helping to take care of some of her younger siblings.”

Landis said the kids have been surprisingly resilient, playing sports or games with Red Cross volunteers in the fire department. However, it will take more than emergency aid to help these families recover.

“How else can we pull together the entire community to support you,” Landis said.

Landis said the fire department will be used as a shelter for at least a few more days before starting the longer-term work of getting these families back on their feet.

Landis added that one challenge the Red Cross team is facing is a language barrier. Many of the families are Burmese and Nepali, and the adults speak very little English. The Red Cross is working with a translator to make sure the families understand the resources available.