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Columbia apartment complex fire leaves 8 families in need of help

Imagine every possession you have being lost in minutes, and having to start over with nothing. That’s the situation for eight Columbia families after a fire at Gable Oaks Apartments on Colleton Street Tuesday morning, and help from the community is needed.

The fire left 35 people, including 21 children, temporarily homeless and wondering what comes next.

“We’re doing okay, all things considered,” said Ms. Yolanda, who helps run an after-school enrichment program for children at the complex, and who lost her home and belongings in the fire. “We’re alive. Everyone’s alive.”

While glad to be alive, the fire survivors are also frightened. The Red Cross stepped in to help, housing them temporarily in local hotels. Still, there are no millionaires at Gable Oaks: just hard-working people trying to make the best lives they can for themselves, and even more so for the kids.

The toys are gone. The games are gone. The books are gone. All quite literally overnight. The parents are suddenly thrust into an unfamiliar situation, with more stress than many of us can imagine. Many of the children are far too young to understand what’s happened and why, but they are old enough to know something is terribly wrong, and all the things that make them feel better are gone.

The fire broke out around 1:30 a.m. and the residents had to focus on getting out alive. Tuesday afternoon, several mothers were waiting at the complex for permission to go into the remains of their homes and see if anything can be salvaged. Many of the children have no shoes, and were left with nothing to wear but the pajamas they had on when awakened in the middle of the night.

These are the times when a community is needed. Toiletries and food would make a big difference to these families, as would clothing and comfort items. If you can give, drop off donations at the Gable Oaks leasing office, 901 Colleton Street. Financial donations may be made through this link.

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