On the afternoon of January 5, 2018, not even two months after Bobbi Gilbert and Red Cross volunteers installed smoke alarms in Gilbert's home and other homes in the Warm Springs community, Gilbert's neighbors heard the alarm go off in her home.
Gilbert's kitchen had caught fire while she and her children were away. When neighbors realized the alarm going off signaled a fire, they quickly called the fire department.
The Warm Springs fire department arrived in time to keep the blaze confined to Gilbert’s kitchen. Although there was extensive smoke and water damage, that too was contained largely to the kitchen.
“I’m so grateful that my children and I were not at home at the time. No one was injured,” Gilbert said. “All of our family photos and a few family heirlooms that have been handed down from earlier generations were also spared.”
Gilbert is also thankful that the fire alarm was loud enough to alert her neighbors and that they paid enough notice to call someone to investigate. Otherwise, the damage would likely have been much worse.
While her home is still being repaired, Gilbert is staying with nearby family members, and her children are staying with their father.
In the aftermath of the fire, the Red Cross helped Gilbert a second time by providing resources to help her put her home and life back together. Red Cross volunteer Jack Crowell worked tirelessly to track down aid and community programs to help the Gilbert family.
Warm Springs lies roughly 100 miles east of Portland in Oregon's high desert country. The area is about 98 percent Native American. Red Cross volunteers joined local tribal members there in November 2017, offering to install free smoke alarms in any home that needed one. The team of 17 volunteers installed 119 smoke alarms during this one-day event. Gilbert and six other members from her tribe were among those volunteers. None of them suspected that in less than two months their hard work would pay off in such a big way.