Red Cross help displaced victims of apartment fire

Thursday’s blaze destroyed 24 residences inside two buildings that were condemned. It was deemed accidental by Dover’s Fire Marshal.

DOVER — The blaze displaced residents from elementary school age to 81, all of them reeling.

Following a destructive apartment complex fire Thursday, the City of Dover and Red Cross of Delmarva provided what they so desperately needed.

About 50 persons living at Baytree Apartment Homes received supplies and shelter to cushion the sudden shock of losing their domiciles. Also, 21 pets (dogs and cats) were forced out.

The blaze was reported at just after 10 a.m. and destroyed 24 residences inside two buildings that were condemned. It was deemed accidental by Dover’s Fire Marshal.

There were no reported injuries, the Dover Fire Department said. Fire company crews from Little Creek, Cheswold and Camden-Wyoming responded as well.

Red Cross Disaster Action Team member Gene Rossi meets with a client following Thursday’s Dover apartment complex fire. (Submitted photo/Red Cross of Delmarva)

Dover Emergency Management Coordinator Kay Sass spearheaded the city’s response, and police personnel helped question victims about medical needs, shelter options and more. All involved maintained a social distance to any potential coronavirus issues, she said.

“It’s unprecedented to go through the pandemic and then to have this disaster is just unbelievable,” Ms. Sass said.

Social distancing nixed hugs, which Red Cross of Delmarva Executive Director Theresa Young described as “the most important tool in our toolbox.”

The volunteers adjusted by “Really tapping into their emotional needs to provide a path to begin the journey towards healing.”

The questionnaire sped up the recovery process before the Red Cross arrived. With assessments readily available, Ms. Young and two disaster action team members began to determine what residents needed and then provided stipends.

Ms. Young arrived between noon and 12:30 p.m., meeting with volunteers already there. They stayed until about 3:30 p.m., leaving one volunteer at the scene in case more needs arose.

Food, clothing and shelter were a must, along with medical needs and medications. Red Cross had a nurse, two mental health case workers and a coordinator operating through a virtual platform to aid the effort.

“We meet with each person to figure out their needs and they get a level of (monetary) assistance based on that information,” Ms. Young said. “It’s their’s to use as they see fit and we encourage them to use it for the basics of food, clothes, shelter and medical concerns.”

Ms. Young said that many of the displaced stayed at Mainstay Suites in Dover. She said they helped each other out and expressed gratitude for those responding to assist them.

“Everyone was really supportive of each other and appreciative of everyone who responded to their emergency,” she said.

“It was a great example of the community coming together during an extremely tough situation.”

Ms. Sass described the Red Cross as “fabulous to work with. They’ve always responded with tremendous help in other tough situations and (Thursday) was no different.”