Sixteen people are homeless and trying to figure out what to do next because of a fire that broke out in their apartment building early Saturday morning. The fire destroyed the 4-plex on Elm Street East in Sumner.
They huddled and hugged each other tight. The families are heartbroken because they have lost virtually everything they own in just a few minutes. Hours after the fire, their fingers and faces were still covered in soot.
The fire forced them out into the freezing cold. Many of them had nothing but the clothes on their back.
“They were outside without shoes, nothing,” said Ana Ruiz, a relative of one of the tenants.
Four families were rudely awakened around 5 a.m.
11-year-old David Ortiz-Garcia was home with his brother, his parents, grandpa and great-grandpa.
“We were sleeping and then we heard my great-great-grandpa. He yelled ‘Fire! Fire’!” said Ortiz-Garcia. “I smelled it and I saw it so I just ran out.”
Ludmila Fierro who lives next door says she and her family managed to escape their burning apartment. But now, they can't find their beloved dog Milo.
People are turning out, trying to help the displaced families.
“I went to Fred Meyer to buy some shoes and something for them,” said Ruiz.
While Christmas is just around the corner, the families devastated by the fire have a lot more on their mind.
“Everything got burned,” said Ortiz-Garcia.
Many of them are worried about where they’re going to live. The Red Cross is putting them up in a motel for two days. After that, the families say they’re on their own.
The local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints says it’s working with a local elementary school to collect donations to help the family, including supplies, clothes, and gift cards. The Sumner Police Department has shared updates on the family on its Facebook page.