According to Oneonta Fire Chief Arthur Willis, Oneonta Fire and Rescue initially responded to two units fully involved just after 5 p.m.
Five additional volunteer fire departments assisted with the call.
Willis confirmed of the 12 units damaged, four were damaged from fire, two from smoke and water, fire and six lower units by water alone.
The Red Cross was on the scene to help the displaced families, and the Blount County community also quickly began organizing assistance for those without a place to stay.Donation stations were set up at Walmart and The Sanctuary Church. In addition to clothing, health and beauty supplies, and household items, over $1,500 has been collected thus far via cash, checks, and gift cards. The donated money has allowed victim’s hotel bills and other expenses to be reduced or paid in full.
Doug Sharp, who has been instrumental in organizing the donation stations said, “The outpouring of support for the fire victims has been amazing. Both stations have been swamped with donations. You guys have been awesome.
“At this point, we do not need any clothing items. We’re simply out of room to store anything. If you want to assist these folks financially, please let me know. Thank you Oneonta and Blount County. You guys have great hearts.”
As of Monday, Sharp confirmed several residents are still in a motel due to a lack of available and affordable housing at this time.
Nineteen volunteers continue to assist those affected by the fire. On Monday, they were relentlessly sorting through donations in an effort to better organize them. In just five days, a total of 162 hours of volunteer service has been documented.
Sharp continued to praise the efforts of so many volunteers as they willingly give their time, money, and/or support. He said the donation building, which is located just in front of the apartment building, will remain open from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. for the remainder of the week. Any victims who need assistance are encouraged to visit the donation site.
True compassion has been exemplified during this disaster. Sharp mentioned that despite enduring their own tragedy, several of the victims have turned down monetary donations, and told volunteers to give the money to other residents who were not as fortunate as they were. Some of the victims have even volunteered at the donation center.
While there are many people to express gratitude to, Sharp specifically wanted to thank Sue Smith, who has served as an assistant coordinator of these efforts.
Others who have played a significant part in assisting with the donation efforts:
• Fortson Moving Systems provided use of a truck for collection and storage of donated items.
• Robbie McAlpine donated money and advertisements requesting assistance for the victims.
• David Nations provided a building to store the donated items.
• Trendy Consignments donated clothing racks to help organize the garments.
• David Turley, The Sanctuary Church, and Union Hill Baptist Church provided an outpouring of support.
On Monday, Willis said the cause of the fire remained under investigation and no further information is available.