At 4:00 a.m. on June 6, 2016, Abigaile Ball and her husband, Ethan, were awoken by the beeping of the hallway smoke alarms in their apartment unit. Not knowing what was going on, they went to investigate.
"We were confused because smoke alarms go off all the time from things like burnt popcorn," said Abigaile Ball.
Opening the door, that lead into the hallway, revealed a suffocating black smoke indicating that the alarms were not from burnt popcorn, but a real fire. With the hallway filled with smoke, the Balls ran out to their third floor balcony, only grabbing the basics, and began yelling for help.
They were rescued by firefighters and taken across the street with the other residents of the apartment.
"The biggest concern is wondering if you lost everything," said Abigaile Ball.
The nearly 75 apartment residents, most being Iowa State students, were shuttled over to the Ames City Hall auditorium for a place to stay while American Red Cross volunteers and the community took action.
The Red Cross began taking care of their basic needs by supplying them with resources, including a debit-type card with financial assistance and comfort kits filled with hygiene products.
The Salvation Army provided breakfast and lunch to those staying at City Hall.
The apartment complex required renters insurance, so State Farm representatives arrived to help people file claims and even the mobile Iowa Department of Transportation vehicle came to print driver's licenses that were lost in the fire.
Commander Karen Tapper of the Ames Fire Department later helped escort residents of the apartment to and from the shelter so that they could see if they could salvage any of their belongings.
"We are very thankful for all the community support," said Abigaile Ball, "And, that we are able to feel protected and safe."
The Red Cross in Iowa assisted with 2,141 home fires in 2015. It is the goal of the Red Cross to reduce the number of deaths and injuries by fire by 25% by 2020. The most important things that people can do to stay safe during a fire are having working smoke alarms and practicing a fire escape plan ready.
The work of the Red Cross is made possible by the generosity of the American public. You can help people affected by disasters big and small by making a gift to Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables us to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters. You can donate by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Your donation helps provide food, shelter and emotional support to those affected by disasters.