Assistance Given To Longview Fire Victims

Russell Phillips started Friday morning almost a thousand miles from his home.

"A friend of ours called," Russell says, "And told me, 'first of all, Michelle's all right so don't get hysterical.'"

"I'm in North Carolina waiting to get loaded, because I drive a truck. She's like, 'Your apartment burned down.'"

He couldn't get home until ten Saturday night. His fiance, Michelle, was all right. She escaped out the window of their burning apartment building. But everything else was destroyed.

"There's some irreplaceable things that are just forever gone," he says wistfully.

The Red Cross and Salvation Army were on the scene immediately. For the suddenly homeless, the Apartment Association of Longview quickly acted to make room for them.

Donya Northcutt, manager of North Huntington Hills Apartments, explained that for the victims, the other apartments were trying to help. "We're all running specials, such as no rent for December, deferred deposit, things like that. We feel it when something happens, we all just want to do what we can to help."

While the residents continue to return, leaving tributes and waiting to search for their belongings, the association continues to try and help.

"All the apartments are getting together," Northcutt says, "And we're going to take donations of household goods, clothing, anything we could use to help all these people."

The apartments are sealed as a crime scene. That means even for the families whose homes weren't completely destroyed, they can't go inside to collect any remaining belongings until the investigation is complete. AMBUCS of Longview also gave Michelle a Wal-Mart gift card to help replace their belongings, but Russell knows one thing was irreplaceable.

"The most important thing that was in that apartment is still with me," he says, hugging Michelle.

"So I'd trade them a million times over."

If you would like to donate food, clothing, or anything else for the victims of the Pinehurst fire, you can contact the Longview Area Apartment Association at 903-759-3966.

Reid Kerr reporting.