Community donates gifts to Raleigh fire victims


Firefighters were called around 2:19 a.m. Sunday to Green Castle Townhomes on New Hope Church Road.

Officials said it took over three hours to control the blaze.

Although no one was injured, when the smoke cleared, seven units were destroyed leaving nine families, a total of 33 people, without a home.

One of those residents, Sandra Cruz, said her family will have to start all over again.

"It was really bad," she said. "I lost all my stuff: all of my clothes. It's sad."

The families are now living in a hotel on Capital Boulevard, while The Red Cross works to find them another place to live.

"I don't have children myself, so helping families is my life," said Tracy Brown of The Red Cross.

She said it was a consolation for her to see the children so excited to stay in a hotel.

"One of the children asked me if there was a television in the room," she said.

Now, the families will also have some consolation, as members of the community continue to donate numerous items including toys and clothing.

Sylvia Wiggins with Helping Hand Mission is assisting with the donations. She said it is overwhelming to think that the children lost their toys in the fire.

"Word came out that the apartments got demolished and they lost everything," she said. "All through Christmas, people [were] dropping off toys and boxes and it was too late for Christmas, so we loaded them all up and brought them here to pass out."

Community members donated stuffed animals, games, and even bicycles.

Wiggins said the families are appreciative because they were in need of so many items.

"They needed children's clothing. They needed coats. They needed blankets," she said. "And it's been so exciting, they've been here all morning going through stuff - picking out different sizes for the kids and themselves - and it's really been nice."

The Green Castle Townhomes complex is no stranger to fire. The homes of 24 people were destroyed in June 2010. At the time, residents said that fire also appeared to start outside a unit.

In 2006, there was another fire. That one was caused by lightning.

Police said no charges will be filed in this incident, as the fire was accidental.

The displaced residents will be meeting at the property management office Tuesday morning.

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