• Community helps Auburn fire victims

    By: Alison Grande

    Updated:

    The community answered the call to help in Auburn on Saturday. They brought furniture, household items, and clothes to Game Farm Park for fire victims.

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    Forty people who lived in the historic Heritage Building were displaced by a fire on Tuesday. They lost all of their belongings.  The fire victims did not have insurance, many were low income and don’t have the money to replace what they lost.

    The vehicles full of furniture kept coming to unload.

    Terry and Suzanne Smith of Roy brought a three-horse trailer full of furniture. The couple is part of Back Country Horseman in Pierce County, and picked up donations from members and friends and drove them to Auburn. 

    “We feel blessed,” said Terry Smith, “They lost everything they had. Most of them aren’t going to have any insurance. Most of them aren’t going to have any way to move forward. If we can help with that, it’s an easy thing.”

    The furniture will be distributed by the Red Cross when the fire victims find new apartments. 

    “When those people come here and see the generosity of total strangers you know it’s going to warm their heart and make them feel cared about, loved,” added Suzanne Smith.

    Flames tore through the historic Heritage Building on Tuesday afternoon. Investigators say the fire that started in the laundry room and quickly spread, destroying 34 apartments upstairs and businesses downstairs.

    The building was constructed in 1921 and did not have sprinklers.

    The Red Cross cared for the fire victims at a shelter at Cascade Middle School, on Saturday they were moved into a hotel in Auburn. 

    The management company for the Heritage Building, MS Property Management,  is trying to find new apartments for the fire victims. A property manager told KIRO-7 they appreciate the community support with furniture, clothes and belongings.

    The help today came from throughout the area. Ted Mittelstaedt of Maple Valley brought furniture his daughters used in college.

    “If what we have as excess in our garage could help some other people, so be it. Sounds good,” said Mittelstaedt as he emptied the trunk of his car.

    James Johnson, of Renton, brought a carload of clothes and household items to donate. Johnson heard a thrift shop in Tukwila was closing and clearing out items for free, so he went and filled his car. He told KIRO-7 he knows what the victims are going through because he lost his home in a fire.

    “I loaded up everything I think I’d need if I was out of a house. You don’t have nothing,” said James Johnson.

    “Now that we’ve collected this stuff today, we’ll work with the Red Cross and other partners to find a way to distribute it to people from the fire,” said Jerry Thorson, Auburn Emergency Manager. “If you think about it these people walked away with just the clothing on their back. So they have absolutely nothing to put into a new place to live, so this will be a definite help for them." 

    There is another furniture drives scheduled for next Saturday, January 6th from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. at Game Farm Park in Auburn.

    The food bank is collecting food, clothing, toiletries and monetary donations. MS Property Management says both Les Schwab Tires locations in Auburn are also collecting monetary donations for fire victims.
     
     

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