Red Cross opens shelter for residents displaced by apartment fire

Red Cross opens shelter for residents displaced by apartment fire

SPOKANE, Wash. - Fifty-five people were displaced by Saturday's fire on the 6500 block of North Atlantic. Some of them are staying at a local Red Cross shelter during their search for new homes.

Volunteers say it's one of the largest responses they've had in the Spokane area since the Valley View fire in 2008, where they sheltered more than 130 people.

"If we have a large group of people and they need a place to stay, we want to make sure they're safe so we have them come into a shelter," Red Cross volunteer Sally Stuber said.

The shelter is set up at the nearby Spokane Friends Church. About 20 people are sleeping there each night. The Red Cross is working with agencies like Catholic Charities to find permanent housing for them. Until they do, the shelter will stay open.

"Because these are larger family groups, it's going to be a little harder for them to find a place to rent and to get relocated," Stuber said.

It's been an even harder week for several of the residents. James Betsinger was attacked by a pit bull outside his apartment last week. He and four others were injured by the dog. A few days later, the fire destroyed his home.

While Betsinger was still nursing his stitches from the incident, he spent Sunday sifting through his apartment to pack up what's left.

"I always got to try and find the positive in the negative," he said.