ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – More than 30 people are now left trying to figure out where to call home after a fire at the Pine Hills apartment complex on Saturday.
According to officials, the two-alarm fire was at Jernigan Gardens Apartments, formerly known as Windsor Cove, on Mercy Drive, where it affected 12 units, 10 of which were occupied.
A spokesperson with Millennia Companies, the apartment complex management company, said that about 32 people were displaced, including about 22 children.
The Red Cross stepped in to help these families find food, clothes and housing. According to the Red Cross, in total 52 people were displaced.
“We were able to assist with some financial assistance, as well as personal comfort kits with hygiene products, things that they need immediately,” said Janice Moran with the American Red Cross.
Gwen Wyatt, who has four grandchildren living at the apartments, told News 6 she’s devastated.
“It wasn’t our fault, and we’re just forced to move out of our homes, and it’s not fair. It’s not fair and we have nowhere to go,” Wyatt said.
She said Christmas this year won’t be the same.
“That’s a Grinch that stole Christmas, so I don’t know how that’s going to go,” Wyatt said.
Orlando City commissioner Regina Hill sadly knows all too well about tragedy around the holidays.
“I’m sure they lost things in there that were priceless,” Hill said. “One Christmas in 1995, I had a house fire, and I lost it all.”
She said even before Saturday’s fire, she was working with Orlando Police and other community partners to host a toy drive this Saturday at the Jernigan Gardens Apartments.
She said now especially, since the fire happened there, she wants to make sure the affected families affected can have a merry Christmas.
“We cannot just give them toys, but we are going to make sure we have food vouchers for them to go and shop for food,” Hill said.
The Red Cross will also be assisting the affected families with a gift card of $500 to assist with hotel accommodations and other necessities.
Saturday’s toy drive is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Jernigan Gardens Apartments. If you’d like to donate or help these families, contact Hill at 407-246-3014.