Red Cross Volunteers are Busier than Usual

A Lufkin man is recovering after being rescued from a burning house. His home went up in flames Sunday.

The fire happened at 72-year-old Tommy Nolan's home on Rowe Street in Lufkin. It destroyed his house and everything inside. Nolan said he left a lit cigarette burning on his couch which caught fire.

The flames quickly spread to some curtains and other materials in his home. A passerby saw the fire and ran inside the burning house, saving Nolan's life.

"I want to tell him I sure appreciate it because I was in there in all that smoke and couldn't see," said Nolan. "I had the back door locked from the inside to keep people from coming in [and] stealing my money and grocery, so I had it locked from the inside [and] I had a chain on it and I couldn't get out."

Nolan is now temporarily living in a hotel. He lived in his home in North Lufkin for 20 years.

House fires are a common disaster for the American Red Cross, especially when the weather starts getting colder.

Glenna Harkness, service center manager, said, "Red Cross helps with their emergency needs -- their clothing, their food, their shoes, a hotel stay, first month's rent. If they have to have steel-toed boots before they can go back to work, we wanna help with whatever it is to get them back on the road to recovery."

Several East Texas families have recently been left homeless after house fires destroyed all their belongings. Red Cross volunteers are almost always dispatched to the scene of an emergency so the recovery process can quickly begin.

Many East Texans depend on the Red Cross volunteers for medication, toiletries, and other items needed to start over, but volunteers know the help they provide can never replace what's truly been lost in a disaster.

The local American Red Cross responded to 12 house fires in November. So far, there have been four house fires this month in the organization's service areas.