Eight families lose homes in apartment fire

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October 11, 2006

It's the Red Cross to the rescue after a fire destroys eight homes.

The blaze started just before 3 o'clock this morning at Charlestown South Apartments in south Augusta.

Now, volunteers are stepping up to help.

The buildings are boarded up and the last fire truck is gone, but the Red Cross continues to work behind the scenes to help the eight families who lost everything.

The smoke detector, the crackle and pop of the blaze, and the bang at the door are all sounds that brought Mary Booth to safety.

"When he banged on it--and I mean he was banging!--he said, 'Get some clothes on and get out of here!'" she told News 12.

The next thing she saw...

"A fire...it was going all the way up past the roof."

It also went through the walls and ceiling on the inside.

Fire investigators say it all started in some old wiring, which was still sparking when we got there.

The entire roof on the end units is gone.

That's why the Red Cross disaster relief team is stepping in.

"We help get through the first few days of a disaster...when you're really up in the air, not sure what to do, where to go," explained team member Kim Heins.

They're offering debit cards to everyone involved to help them pay for food, clothes, and a place to stay.

Most lost their belongings...but without Sheneta Smith, it could have been worse.

"When I looked up I was like, 'Ooooh,'" Sheneta recalled. "There was smoke, and when the lady come out I was like 'Tell everyone to get out, the building is smoking!'"

Firefighters say if Sheneta hadn't rushed to dial 911, people could have lost their lives.

"I can't imagine!" Mary said. "It's just unreal."

For Mary and many others, there are all types of heroes, from the fire department to the Red Cross, fighting the destruction of the flames.

Mary plans to spend the day bowling to get her mind off things.

Most of the units are completely destroyed, so many families will have to find a new place to live.

And here's a reminder from the fire department: it's important to have renters insurance, because otherwise, you aren't covered when disasters strike.

The fire department's investigation is ongoing to figure out the exact cause of the fire.