GREENUP The fire that broke out early Tuesday morning at Stone Side Apartments in Greenup is a good example of how local communities respond to emergencies. County employees were at work at the county garage when they noticed smoke billowing from the windows of the apartment building and responded by calling the fire department and rushing to the aid of residents, most of whom were still asleep in the early morning hours.
Henry Patrick, Jr., Michael Meade, Roy Luther and Colton Stevens were the employees who first noticed the fire, Greenup County Judge-Executive Robert Carpenter said.
“One of the boys was pumping gas at the garage,” Carpenter said. “And he saw smoke coming out of the top of the building. He told the other employees to call the fire department, because the apartment building was on fire. Michael Meade went around the building beating on the windows to wake everyone up. And Colton Stevens kicked in the door and all four of them started getting people out.” Soon after, Carpenter said, the fire departments arrived on the scene.
“I got a call last night,” Carpenter said on Wednesday. ”They were really wanting to thank those boys for what they did. And I was told there would have been some deaths if they hadn’t started getting people out so quickly.” Carpenter said he intends to issue a proclamation during the next Fiscal Court meeting recognizing the heroics of the four county employees.
Carpenter said he also wanted to praise the local fire departments for their quick response.
“I have nothing but praise for these local fire departments,” he said. “It amazes me how they do the things that they do. And they help us in a lot of ways beyond fighting fire, such as helping us cut trees from roadways.”
Carpenter said that the heart of the county goes out to the residents displaced by the fire, and he is grateful there were no fatalities, and to see the many organizations stepping in to help them.
Though an official report on the structure and the possibility of repairing it would require an inspection by a structural engineer, many believe that repairs to the building would be unlikely or at the very least cost-prohibitive. And even if the structure would be deemed repairable, former residents would not be able to wait for the time necessary to complete those repairs. Currently, there is aid being offered by local churches and the Red Cross, and several organizations are also taking donations for the residents’ necessities and future housing needs.
Amber Reeves, Executive Director of the Tri-State Chapter of the American Red Cross, said assistance is ongoing for Stone Side residents, but it is a process that will require some time. Reeves commended local organizations for stepping up in the aftermath of the fire, providing food, clothing and immediate necessities, but said one of the challenges is that Stone Side was one of the few apartments of its kind in Greenup.
“We are trying to raise money for their housing needs,” Reeves said, and went on to say that the Red Cross is working on setting up a fundraising site where people will be able to donate.
“It (Stone Side) was one of the few lower-income residences in Greenup,” Reeves said. “And one of our biggest challenges is going to be finding them long-term housing.”
The number of people displaced by the fire, she said, was 18 clients, including many who have no place to go. And after being involved with the emergency efforts — including sending pizza and water to those fighting the blaze — the Red Cross is now focusing on what comes next. Both during and after, Reeves said, the community has responded in an amazing way.
“There was a local vendor who helped us with the food and water, but the community itself responded wonderfully to help their neighbors,” she said.
Reeves said Disaster Program Specialist Amber Deen has been working directly with Stone Side residents and the churches and community leaders in an effort to resolve the long-term housing needs, looking as far as Ashland and the surrounding communities to determine what openings, if any, are available.
Currently, food and clothing needs are being met, and what is most needed is donations of money and volunteering time. Reeves said the community can contact the Red Cross in the Huntington office or the Ashland office. And both The Greenup Methodist Church and Christian Church are currently accepting donations of all types.