House Fire Numbers

Over the last year, officials with the American Red Cross office in Meridian say there has been a significant increase in the number of house fires in the area it serves.

In some of those fifteen counties, the Red Cross says the number of house fires has almost doubled.

Tocara Griggs of Lauderdale County is one of the most recent victims.

"I actually grew up in that house," said Griggs, standing by what remains of the structure.

Now the house with so many memories for Griggs is gone. That is, all except for primarily winter clothes that were able to be salvaged.

The 24-year-old and her two children, who are ages 4 and 2, have been left without a home or exact plans for the future.

"I don't even know," Griggs said. "I'm taking it day by day."

For Griggs who says she pays for everything in cash, this was especially devastating because she says she just used the money she received from her tax return to pay off her car and fix the floors in the house.

"The first thing people ask is, did we have insurance? No, we did not have any insurance because we're just a normal family trying to make it," said Griggs.

"Usually in the spring and summer, due to use of heating sources being decreased because it's not cold, we see a decrease in the number of single family fires," said Gordon Stewart, readiness and response manager for the East Central Mississippi Red Cross Office in Meridian. "But this year it has been unusually high."

Meeting the emergency needs of fire victims by providing temporary shelter, food, clothes and disaster health services when needed, Stewart says the increase in house fires is also sparking increases in other areas.

"We do need donations and we do need volunteers," said Stewart.

"Just to think about the people who have donated who didn't even know us is just...," said Griggs, breaking into tears.

To help fire victims like Tocara Griggs and her children, you may contact the American Red Cross Office in Meridian at 601-485-5151.

Stewart says most fire victims assisted by the local office do not have insurance.

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