Meridian, Miss. The lives of almost 30 people drastically changed after a destructive fire took away every possession that many families held dear. Western Gardens Apartments was the site of a devastating fire which police investigators are calling an arson.
The exact cause is unknown, but the fire has left eight families without a place to call home and many trying to understand just why this had to happen.
"You know, the families just really can't seem to understand why a criminal act of this nature would be perpetrated upon them," Meridian Housing Authority Executive Director Ronald Turner says. "Of course no family deserves that, but we understand that there are a couple of individuals that are in custody at this point and the investigation is ongoing."
An investigation led to two juveniles being taken into custody and charged with arson. The damage to the apartment complex is estimated at over $250,000. The Red Cross stepped in to help with temporary, emergency housing.
"All of the families have been temporarily housed and relocated in hotel spaces across the City of Meridian. Of course, their lives have been disrupted and there is some sense of 'abnormalcy', but we are working diligently to bring normalcy into the lives of those whose families' lives have been disrupted," says Turner.
The Meridian Housing Authority says it has closed the wait list and made these families a top priority. According to the MHA they are expected to have new housing within a week, but their needs still need to be fulfilled.
"Several needs for these families, you know,. None of them had renters' insurance, so they lost everything. We are asking for clothing donations, donations of furniture because once we put them in permanent housing they are going to need furniture," the director said.
If you would like to help the victims of the fire, you may make a donation at any location of Trustmark Bank in Meridian, in the name of Western Gardens Fire Victims. You may also mail donations to Meridian Housing Authority, 2425 E Street, Meridian, MS 39301, or call 601-693-4285.