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Posted on Tue. Nov. 27, 2012 - 12:45 am EDT

Fires upend lives, sock relief agency

Apartment evacuees hurt for basics

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How to help

•To donate to the Mustard Seed Furniture Bank, visit or call 471-5802. The organization currently needs pots, pans, toasters, crock pots, bake ware, silverware, cooking utensils, kitchen towels and blankets in twin, full, queen and king sizes. The items must be new or gently used and in working order. Also accepted are cash and gift cards for purchasing household goods.

Donations are regularly accepted 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Mustard Seed, 3636 Illinois Road. Though to meet the unusual need, the organization will have an extended drop-off period 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday.

•To donate to the local American Red Cross chapter, visit or call 484-9336.

A series of fires at apartment buildings this month has stretched resources thin at the Mustard Seed Furniture Bank, a Fort Wayne organization that helps uninsured fire victims who have lost their belongings, executive director Suzie Jordan said.

Jordan made a plea for donations Monday, a day after a fire displaced all the residents of a 24-unit building at Baldwin Creek Apartments, near Hobson Road and East State Boulevard. She said the American Red Cross could refer up to 21 households to Mustard Seed for assistance.

“We need to be prepared for these families,” she said. “There’s one that’s lost everything.”

The Mustard Seed serves not only fire victims but also people facing all sorts of hardships, Jordan said.

“We’re here day in and day out serving people who need our help,” she said. “We can’t do it without the community.”

The Sunday morning fire at the Baldwin Creek complex began in the south end of Building F at 1920 Hobson Road. Heavy smoke spread through the two-story structure, sending residents rushing to their balconies. About 40 people got out on their own or were rescued, fire officials said.

One resident was taken to a hospital with a smoke-related illness but was in good condition Sunday.

Fire investigators determined the blaze, which caused extensive damage, started accidentally when a light fixture in a common area malfunctioned, said Stacey Fleming, a Fort Wayne Fire Department spokeswoman.

Neighborhood Code director Cindy Joyner said it’s too soon to say when residents will be able to move back into their apartments. Those who need to retrieve items from their homes can contact Neighborhood Code for permission to enter the building, she said.

Calls to the Baldwin Creek management office rang unanswered Monday, and messages left with the Gary firm that owns the building, Residential Management Co., were not returned.

Katherine MacAulay, chief operations officer for the American Red Cross of Northeast Indiana, said her organization has found accommodations for 12 households, while other residents are staying with family or friends.

Like Mustard Seed, MacAulay said, the Red Cross is also in need of support, particularly the financial kind. She said giving to the Northeast Indiana chapter has waned since the public’s attention turned toward the Atlantic Coast’s recovery from Hurricane Sandy.

“That makes it tough for us to meet budgetary needs,” she said.

In addition to Sunday’s fire, the local Red Cross this month has helped the victims of three apartment fires and a motel fire, MacAulay said.

•The morning of Nov. 3, a fire started in a room at the Motel Wayne at 7001 Indiana 930 E. The flames spread into the attic and throughout the building along the roofline. No injuries were reported. The fire was ruled accidental but remains under investigation, according to the New Haven Adams Township Fire Department. The Red Cross helped 30 people displaced from the motel, which had several long-term residents, MacAulay said.

•Early Nov. 15, firefighters battled a blaze in an attic area of a two-story, 16-unit building in the Twin Oaks complex at 2708 E. Paulding Road. No one was injured, but the building sustained heavy damage. The Red Cross gave aid to six households, MacAulay said.

•Early Nov. 19, Fort Wayne firefighters rescued an unconscious man from a burning apartment in a two-story, four-unit building at 1006 Lincoln Ave., just east of Broadway. The 48-year-old man, suffering from burns and smoke inhalation, was taken to a hospital in serious condition. A fire official said food left unattended on the man’s stove started the blaze. The Red Cross assisted two families in that case, MacAulay said.

•On Nov. 21, an early morning blaze began in a basement of Riverview Terrace Apartments, 1823 Griswold Drive, just east of Spy Run Avenue. Five residents were taken to a hospital for minor smoke inhalation. MacAulay said the Red Cross helped one family affected by the fire.

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