Monday, November 29, 2021
Nov. 29, 2021

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Car fire leaves family homeless; aid donated

By , Columbian environment and transportation reporter

Two adults, four children and their dog sought emergency lodging through the Red Cross after their vehicle, which doubled as their home, caught fire Thursday afternoon while traveling over the East Fork of the Lewis River.

Firefighters responded around 1:40 p.m. to a report of a vehicle fire on Interstate 5 near Ridgefield.

Firefighters arrived and doused the flames, but the vehicle was destroyed, Clark County Fire & Rescue Battalion Chief Tim Dawdy said.

“So the car burns up and, basically, they lost the car and everything they have,” Dawdy said.

When firefighters realized what was going on, they connected the family with the Red Cross, which provided the family with food and lodging vouchers.

Paula Fasano Negele, a spokeswoman for the Red Cross, said agency staff met the family at a fire station and worked to help connect them with community resources and social services, and provided comfort kits and stuffed animals.

Dawdy said word spread among the firefighters, and through their union they kicked in a donation to help the family with necessities.

Vehicle fires aren’t especially uncommon, he said, so a call for Red Cross support after a car fire made some emergency dispatchers’ ears perk up.

“Then the dispatchers go, ‘What’s going on?’ And the dispatchers make a sizeable donation, too,” he said.

“Too many families are on hard times and living in their cars, and I think it’s tragic that had to happen in the first place, and I’m just really grateful for the American Red Cross and our firefighters, and our dispatchers.”

Columbian environment and transportation reporter