August 11, 2017, Terhesa Dollarhide and her children woke suddently at dawn. “The smoke alarm woke me up about 4:30 in the morning,” she recalled. Terhesa saw her kitchen engulfed in flames and quickly got her two children out of their Medford area home. Within a few minutes, the Dollarhide home was gone.
Although much of the home was burned down to the studs, no one in the Dollarhide family was injured. Red Cross responders Chuck and Patty Albin came to help, providing the Dollarhides with blankets and other basics like toiletry items so they could brush their teeth. The children received stuffed Mickey Mouse dolls to help comfort them.
Patty said, “We gave out a resource guide specific to the local area. Resources in the guide include information on such organizations as the county housing authority, churches, insurance agencies and thrift shops. We also gave Terhesa general Red Cross information and financial assistance, to help the family buy clothes, food and other necessary items.”
Fortunately, other family members lived nearby, so Terhesa and her children were able to stay with them. Still emotional about the fire, Terhesa said that Red Cross was quick to offer their help. “The information the Red Cross gave me was good. There were many resources for us. The responders continued to call to make sure we had what we needed, and I appreciate their help.”
Patty added, “Once the responders leave, the case is turned over to someone within the Red Cross to follow up. They call the family to make sure they are on the road to recovery. They offer guidance. This follow-up may last for 45 days or longer, if needed.”
Steve Parks, Lead Fire Investigator at the Grants Pass Fire Department, said the fire was aggressive. “Because of the age and design materials of the home, it became a big fire very quickly.”
“It is very important to have a working smoke alarm,” emphasized Steve. “It’s a good idea to change the batteries when we set our clocks back in the fall and again when we move them ahead in the spring.” He added that emergency fire drills should be done at home on a monthly basis.
The Red Cross has provided and installed more than 1 million smoke alarms since the Sound the Alarm campaign was launched in 2014. As a result, more than 285 lives have been saved. To learn more about this program and how you can receive a smoke alarm, please visit redcross.org/CascadesHomeFire.