Red Cross closes shelter 1 week after massive apartment fire displaced 15 families

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Red Cross officials announced they will be closing the shelter following an intense apartment fire that displaced 15 families.

"Tough times are often defining. During this time, the Charlotte community has been defined by its generosity and the families by their resiliency," regional executive Angela Broome Powley said. "The support has been overwhelming and heartfelt and now the families are preparing to start anew with support of our community to buoy them."

The Red Cross also released specific numbers about the shelter.

  • 200 overnight shelter stays with a peak 28 shelter residents most nights
  • More than 675 meals served
  • More than 565 snacks served
  • 55 comfort kits distributed
  • 44 volunteers

Officials say they are working with Crisis Assistance Ministry to evaluate each family's needs such as long-term housing.

We first updated WSOCTV news app users with a notification just before 5 a.m. last Friday about the massive apartment fire. 

Download the WSOCTV news app for your smartphone and get updates on developing stories as they come in.

Officials said that 28 people, including nine children, stayed at the emergency shelter last Sunday night after flames tore through their apartment building last Friday morning. The American Red Cross said they are in desperate need of donations.

Red Cross said they have received an outpouring of women's clothing, but they haven't received as much men's clothes.

[Red Cross asks for donations to help displaced families]

At least four people were hurt, and a dog died, after flames engulfed the Woodbridge Apartments along Yateswood Drive in the pre-dawn hours.

Officials said 15 units were impacted by the fire, displacing 70 total adults and children as well as two pets.

Investigators said a cigarette ignited the fire.

Neighbors who were not impacted by the fire saw the devastation and felt called to help.

Noheli Pineda opened her home to one victim's family.

"It was a stranger, I didn't know her," Pineda said. "She had a kid and she was pregnant. I tried to help who I could."

Initial donations of food, clothing, and toys filled th church gymnasium in less than a day.

“It is overwhelming. You see the look of shock, especially on the kids,” disaster program manager Kris Rahe said.

Volunteers with the Red Cross have been trying to help those families rebuild by offering food and shelter.

“I've been on the receiving end. Red Cross has been there for me,” Rahe said.

The Red Cross said 14 people stayed Friday night at a shelter at Albemarle Road Middle School on Democracy Drive for those affected by the fire. Pets are welcome. Transportation to the shelter will be provided by CATS.

Officials say 18 people stayed in the shelter Saturday night.

Officials said the doors will stay open as long as needed.

“There's no plans to close this shelter right now,” Rahe said.

“As a disaster response organization, the Red Cross provides shelter and makes sure our neighbors are comfortable with a place to sleep, they are fed, and they have the medications and other necessities they need,” said Angela A. Broome Powley, regional executive with the Red Cross Greater Carolinas Region. “It takes a community working together to truly make an impact and assist these families on the long-term road to recovery. We are fortunate to have an organization such as Crisis Assistance Ministries in our community to partner with on an ongoing basis.”


The Red Cross is able to provide services such as shelter and casework assistance free thanks to the generosity of donors. Anyone wishing to assist the Red Cross in providing assistance to people impacted by disasters such as this, please donate here or by calling 800-RED-CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999to make a $10 donation.

Crisis Assistance Ministry’s team will work with Red Cross to assess the specific needs of affected families and provide resources to stabilize their household.

Arrangements are in progress for affected families to meet with Crisis Assistance Ministry caseworkers onsite at the Red Cross shelter at Albemarle Road Middle School. Shelter staff will provide additional information about hours of availability as they are established.

Donations of items are still being accepted at Albemarle Road Presbyterian Church, 6740 Albemarle Road, Charlotte, Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Items most needed include children’s clothing through age 12, men’s clothing, infant supplies and diapers, and non-perishable food items.

[IMAGES: Flames rip through east Charlotte apartments]

In addition, the Red Cross is going to partner with Albemarle Road Presbyterian Church for item donations for the impacted families.

"These families are amazingly resilient," regional executive Angela Broome Powley said. "We and our partners will provide a helping hand to put them on the road to recovery."

They are seeking items such as clothing, diapers and toys.

The church has set up specific donation times.

Albemarle Road Presbyterian Church 

6740 Albemarle Road

Drop-off Hours:

Monday through Thursday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

"We are so grateful for Albemarle Road Presbyterian Church for stepping up to assist," Broome Powley said. "When a fire like this devastates a community, it takes working together to help the community recover and become stronger."

Alyse Fontaine is one of many who donated.

“I have a family of my own,” she said. “I would want help if I was in the same situation. They lost everything,”

Some of the residents returned to the charred apartment Saturday to see what they could salvage.

“I've never been in nothing like this before,” neighbor Burrell Hubbs said.

Dozens of firefighters were called just after 4:30 a.m. to the two-alarm fire at the Woodbridge Apartments on Yateswood Drive, near Albemarle Road and W.T. Harris Boulevard, and found heavy flames and smoke coming from a two-story apartment building.

A total of 16 units were in the building. Officials said 15 units were affected, displacing 70 total adults and children as well as two pets.

Just before noon, fire investigators said an improperly discarded cigarette was to blame for the fire, which caused $259,650 in damage and left 15 families without a place to live.

Though flames could still be seen shooting from the building at 6 a.m., fire officials said the fire was under control and not a threat to spread to any other buildings.

Channel 9 crews could see flames shooting into the sky from the roof of the building, which was destroyed.

Firefighters said four residents were treated at the scene and two who had jumped from a balcony to escape the flames were taken to a hospital. None of the injuries were serious.

One dog died in the blaze.

No firefighters were hurt and emergency units did not have to rescue any residents, according to CFD Capt. Dennis Gist.

Channel 9 spoke with several people who were inside the building when the flames broke out. They said they smelled smoke and when they realized what was going on, had to take drastic measures to escape.

“I was just asleep and woke up and the apartment below mine was on fire and that's all we know,” said Chris Roberston. “Nobody told us anything. They just told us to get out and come over here."

"Man, I had to jump off the top of the building because we had to climb up the balcony because as soon as we opened the door all the flames was just right there,” Roberston said.

One man told Channel 9 his wife had to jump out of a window on the top floor, and then he threw his 8-month-old baby into her arms.

“My daughter, she was crying, telling me, ‘We have to go back because my daddy is inside,’” another man said. “She was like, ‘Mommy, we have to go back because dad is inside.’ I mean she was in shock."

Around 6:30 a.m. officials were allowing some residents back into adjacent buildings. The American Red Cross was called to help the displaced families.

"We are so grateful for Albemarle Road Presbyterian Church for stepping up to assist," Broome Powley said. "When a fire like this devastates a community, it takes working together to help the community recover and become stronger."

Check back with wsoctv.com for updates on this developing story.

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