Low-income people recover after losing everything in apartment fire




Posted on April 14, 2014 at 5:53 PM

Updated Monday, Apr 14 at 6:43 PM

SPOKANE, Wash.—More than 50 people were trying to pick up the pieces on Monday after an apartment fire on Saturday in North Spokane. It destroyed ten units near Francis and Division.    

KREM 2 News looked into how low-income people recover after losing almost everything they own.

The Red Cross had an army of volunteers to help in the immediate term. It is what comes after that can be so much harder.

Sharon Quarles was sorting through what was left of her apartment after Saturday’s hectic fire on Atlantic.

She said her apartment manager helped her find another unit a few blocks down and the Red Cross helped her with food, clothing and shelter.

“These are just people who get by day-to-day, and life is going okay. When something of this magnitude hits, it's hard for anybody to recover. But especially when you're living paycheck-to-paycheck,” said Megan Snow with the Red Cross.

It is a situation Carol Riehle found herself in last summer after she lost everything in the devastating fire at Geno’s Restaurant and the neighboring apartment complex.

“Where you live and where you hope and dream. And it kind of takes away your hopes and dreams, and you live day by day after that,” said Riehle.

Riehle was the only one in her building who had renter’s insurance.

“One of the ladies, and her husband, and their little girl... they had nothing,” said Riehle.

Riehle said she watched as her neighbors struggled to find new apartments in good neighborhood and refurnish them with second-hand donations.

“My heart goes out to everybody that loses everything in their life. It just devastates you, and it doesn't matter if you have insurance or not,” said Riehle.

Quarles does not have insurance and knows her recovery will take time.

“Just start over, bit by bit,” said Quarles.

KREM 2 News also learned the Sinto Apartments, next to Geno’s, were almost finished with reconstruction on Monday. Those who lived there, who were in good standing, had the option to move back into their old apartment by early June probably.

Riehle said she would be one of the first ones in the door.