SWATARA TOWNSHIP, Pa. (WHTM) — In just one week, two fires in Swatara Township forced nearly 90 people out of their homes. The Red Cross has been helping dozens of families impacted.
At a Rodeway Inn on Eisenhower Boulevard, firefighters found heavy flames and smoke when they arrived just after 9:30 p.m.
“First thing that everybody thinks about is life safety because it’s a place where there’s most likely multiple people staying,” Swatara Township Fire Chief Mike Ibberson said.
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Seventy-five firefighters fought to get the blaze under control.
“There were multiple rescues made by the fire department,” Ibberson said.
One firefighter suffered minor injuries and was taken to the hospital. Some people were also treated on scene for smoke inhalation.
“Up to 27 rooms were either destroyed or uninhabitable,” Laura Burke, executive director of the Red Cross Central PA chapter, said.
The fire left 40 people — 36 adults and four children — without a place to stay.
“Many of them, they were long term residents of that facility,” Burke said.
The Red Cross team stepped in to provide emergency aid.
“Clothes to replacement medications and any other immediate needs,” Burke said.
This is the second major fire in Swatara Township in just one week. On Sunday, April 10, nearly 50 people lost their homes after cooking started an accidental apartment building fire.
Burke said the Red Cross is continuing to house some of those families at a nearby fire department.
“We’ve continually sheltered over 20 people,” she said. “Sourcing culturally appropriate meals for these families, keeping them safe, keeping them comforted.”
The focus for victims of both fires is slowly shifting to long-term plans, like finding more permanent housing.
“Make sure that their recovery is in place in terms of getting back on their feet,” Burke said.
In just one township, the Red Cross is now helping 88 people pick up the pieces.
“I can’t say enough about the dedication and the drive of our Red Cross team of volunteers,” Burke said.
Aid is still available, and the Red Cross is encouraging anyone impacted by either recent fire to reach out if they need help. Anyone in need of Red Cross assistance should call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) and select option #4 for Disaster Relief.