GREENVILLE COUNTY, SC (WSPA) – A fire at a duplex in Greenville County has left two families picking up the pieces. One of them expecting a new baby in a matter of days.
The American Red Cross of the Upstate is helping eight people after the fire. One woman said she’s grateful everyone made it out safely.
“I inhaled a lot of smoke and stuff, but thank God everyone got out safely,” said fire victim Kristen Ramos. “We’re okay, but you know we did lose a lot of stuff. I’m due next week, having a little boy.”
Broken glass, boarded up doors, and burned towels still sit outside of the duplex on Lily Street. It only shows a small picture of what happened inside the homes on Tuesday night.
Ramos said it all started in her oven.
“It started at the bottom and so from there, I didn’t see flames when I cut off the oven. So, once I cut off the oven, it was like seconds – there goes the flame. I don’t know if it hit that board, and then it just went up,” Ramos said. “It happened split seconds. It went from the kitchen, up to the burning the door, and then it just hit to the other side of the apartment.”
“It was so much smoke. It was more smoke then it was fire, and the fire reached to the duplex that is connected beside us,” Ramos said.
American Red Cross said it immediately responded.
“We first provided words of encouragement. Usually in that situation, people don’t know what to do, they don’t know where to turn, and then we helped to meet the need,” said Jamie Raichel, Executive Director for the American Red Cross of the Upstate.
“We provided financial assistance so that they had a safe place to stay, food to eat, clothes to wear and we will continue to walk them through these first days as they get back on their feet,” said Raichel. “For these families, we will be working with them to help them locate more stable housing if they need it. If it’s helping with a first months rent, maybe a down payment on their power deposits.”
The pregnant mother who is due next week, now believes her belongings could be ruined.
“From what the fire department said, it looks like it is, but they’re not going to let me inside until a week at least a week, because I’m so far along,” Ramos said.
She’s now concerned about the things that she just received at a recent baby shower for her son.
“They said eventually that smell will go out but it won’t leave the clothes. So he said, even though it reached the kitchen and the living room, that smoke still made it to the bedrooms. So, it still latched onto the bassinet, the baby’s rooms, the clothes,” Ramos said.
Ramos said now, she may need more clothes for her new baby and seven-year-old daughter.
“I’m hoping and praying that my bassinet is okay,” she said. “It takes a lot for me to ask for help. Just anything is just greatly appreciated.”
Ramos said she is hopeful for the future.
“Like right now, I just finished school. I had everything going good for me and with graduating school, dental school and then having all of this kind of like set me back a little bit,” Ramos said.
“I know we’ll be okay. I know God has a plan. I just want people to just be careful when they do store stuff in their oven,” Ramos said.
Raichel said one side of the duplex has been ruled to have major damage, and the other as uninhabitable, which she said it means that typically for at least 48 hours residents would only be allowed in to get belongings and start to air out or clean up.
Leaders with American Red Cross are encouraging everyone to have a working smoke alarm.
“Having a working smoke alarm in a home cuts the risk of death by a home fire in half. So we are strong advocates for making sure there are working smoke alarms in homes,” Raichel said.
The Red Cross said they responded to 462 house fires in the Upstate. The fires impacted more than 500 families and 1,500 individual people people.