Search for permanent housing for 130 people displaced by apartme - | WBTV Charlotte

Search for permanent housing for 130 people displaced by apartment fire

(Photo courtesy Charlotte Fire Department) (Photo courtesy Charlotte Fire Department)
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

It's no secret that it's difficult to find low income or affordable apartments in Charlotte. That's the backdrop Red Cross workers are facing.

The Red Cross is searching to find permanent housing for 130 people who were displaced after someone intentionally set their apartment building on fire early Monday morning at Woodscape Apartments on Farm Pond Lane.

"I think it’s really key that they stay in the same community that they’re used to living in," said Angela Broome Powley of the Red Cross. "These children went to school here and we don’t them to have to switch schools."

The Red Cross says they need to find 40 apartments.

Previous: Apartment fire that left 130 homeless was intentionally set

"To find them all 40 places to go with limited stock of housing is difficult, and so that will be a challenge for us as we’re working with landlords around this community," Broome Powley said. "We try to keep them back in the same community. We don’t want to move them across town. They’re used to this school, they’re used to working in this community so the faster we can get them back to normal in the community that they live in, the better off this family will be."

The Red Cross says case workers have been meeting with individual families to assess their needs. 

Mental health volunteers are also at the shelter at Albemarle Road Middle School. 

The way Anselmo Martinez sees it, life is good today. 

He said he, his wife and 4-year-old daughter were trapped in their third-floor apartment after the fire broke out at 1 a.m. Monday. 

Through a translator, Martinez said he "ran to the balcony door and see if he can make a jump but the fire was on the first floor already and then he looked from the living room and everything is on fire, like the sofa."

Martinez said he "ran inside again to his room and they closed the door. They start to feel everything hot, like smoke. They couldn’t breathe because they felt like the smoke is hot plastic and they had a pain."

The only option was a window. 

"He and his wife started to scream for help," Martinez' translator said. "He was thinking about throwing his daughter through the window, but he wanted to know another person would be on the first floor to receive her."

Then, Mrs. Martinez made a decision. 

"He said, my wife, she didn’t tell me nothing she only jumped," Martinez' translator said, adding that his wife fell to the ground.

"I saw my wife on the floor and I saw she couldn’t move for a while, then when my wife got woke up, she said 'give me my child, give me my daughter, throw my daughter,'" he said. 

Four-year-old Chelsea landed in her mother's arms, but her head hit the ground. 

Mother and daughter would get up and walk. Martinez said he decided it was his turn.

"He's said, 'OK, I need to do it,' and he jumped," the translator said.

Martinez said doctors examined his daughter's head then released her from the hospital. His wife stayed overnight for lower back trouble. 

"I feel happy because I am with my wife and my daughter. Thanks to God everything is OK," Martinez said. "Everything was destroyed, but I'm happy." 

Meanwhile, at New Hope Baptist Church on Idlewild Road, people have been dropping off donations of clothing, toiletries, and toys for the residents who are displaced.

"Our phones have been off the hook. People keep calling, pulling up, dropping off clothes and other items for the residents," Pastor Jason Smith said.  "I can’t imagine what they must be going through having lost their homes and their possessions, so we just hope we can help in any way we can."

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