Printed on: December 27, 2012

7 families still displaced by fire

Red Cross puts families up in hotel until they can return home

By Alex Stuckey

A little girl displaced by the Bonneville Apartments fire on Christmas Eve walked into the City of Refuge shoeless. She left with a full belly and a matching purple winter coat and boots.

The girl was among 25 people who were brought to the downtown shelter after the Monday afternoon fire damaged the apartment building at 635 Park Ave.

"When I found out there was a fire, I went down and told the trooper we could set up an emergency station here," City of Refuge case manager Rene Lopez said. "Some had to be carried in because they couldn't move on their own, so we put them on couches; (and) a couple of people needed oxygen, so we had the EMTs bring it in," Lopez said.

The City of Refuge provided the evacuees with food, hot beverages, winter clothing and even Christmas gifts.

Some were able to return home later Monday night, but seven families -- 10 individuals total -- could not.

So, the American Red Cross of Greater Idaho put them up in hotels, district manager Trevor Covington said.

The fire initially displaced as many as 40 people.

At least 13 people were treated for minor smoke inhalation at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center.

Efforts to reach fire officials regarding a possible cause of the Christmas Eve fire were unsuccessful.

The Red Cross will continue to support the displaced families until a longer-term solution is found, Covington said.

Covington wasn't sure whether the displaced individuals would be able to return to their homes.

Efforts to reach officials at the Bonneville Apartments for comment Wednesday were unsuccessful.

"We will help (the families) identify ways to recover, and that depends on whether or not (those apartments) can be fixed," Covington said.

Several other apartment building residents have called the Red Cross seeking shelter, Covington said. If more people request assistance, the Red Cross might open an emergency shelter, he said.

"We're going to make sure these people can get back up on their feet," Covington said. "We're going to make sure they're taken of, where it is the holiday season."