Tulsa Couple With 3 Foster Children Displaced By House Fire Wednesday

Thursday, December 27th 2012, 5:59 pm
By: Emory Bryan

A series of house fires - some related to the cold – has left families without their belongings during the holidays.

In the last week, the Red Cross Tulsa Chapter has responded to 31 fires, which affected more than 100 people.

A few of those fires burned houses to the ground, but the smaller fires can be just as devastating when almost everything a person has is lost.

12/26/2012 Related Story: Tulsa Home Damaged By Fire

There's a big pile of partially burned belongings outside the Embrys' house; at least what's left of it.

"It's devastating," said Robert Embry.

Embry said he's just glad that he and his wife, and their three young foster children, weren't home when it happened.

They were at a doctor's appointment in Muskogee when they got the call about the fire.

Twenty-four hours later, he's looking for anything of value that's left.

"Pile of rubble we're fixing to dig around in and their bedrooms were destroyed. And we just bought them two new bunk beds—that's destroyed, it's all gone now," Embry said.

Wednesday morning, their house was filled with fire and smoke. Firefighters were hustling to search the house, because they weren't sure if anyone was home.

The fire started in a front wall and had burned into the attic before firefighters arrived.

"Attic fires can be a challenge. There are a lot of what we call ‘void spaces' and open areas that the fire will travel through really rapidly," said Michael Baker, with the Tulsa Fire Department.

With fire in the attic, firefighters had to tear down ceilings and use a lot of water to put it out. The house was left standing, but the inside of the house was wrecked.

Embry said he was amazed the fire department took the time to gather up what could be saved and move it to the garage, and they covered the roof and what couldn't be moved out.

But he said no one can imagine the devastation of a fire until you see it firsthand.

"[It's] more than what I imagined. I've seen them on TV, but when it happens to you, you really see the magnitude of it," Embry said.

The Red Cross helps out families after a fire with vouchers for hotels and clothing.

In the past week, the Red Cross has handed out almost $19,000 to families affected by fires.