PEMBROKE, Ga. (WTOC) - A Pembroke apartment building was destroyed by fire late Thursday night.
The fire started at an apartment complex on Strickland Street a little after 10:45 p.m. Firefighters say everyone made it out safely.
Six families are left without homes.
"We turned around and saw just the flames and it was crazy,” Ivana Richardson said.
Within 30 minutes of the apartment complex going up in flames, hundreds filled the parking lot beside it. Richardson was one of those concerned neighbors.
"I came down here instantly and quickly because you never know who it is,” Richardson said. “When it’s a community, we help each other, no matter what. It’s a small little community in Pembroke. We are going to do so much.”
About 45 firefighters from seven different agencies were working to put out the flames.
Outside of helping with traditional firefighter duties, crews are also passing out waters and helping the residents as they sit and wait.
"The people around here always come together when things like this happen. I think its real nice,” Calvin Bacon said.
Bacon's family lived on the second floor of the apartment. Despite losing everything, he sees the community support as a silver lining.
"It makes me really happy and proud that we have so many friends and people who will come in your time of need,” he said.
One of the residents who was alerted to the fire by firefighters tells us she’s thankful she got out safely.
“Everybody, as far as I know, made it out okay,” she said. “The children are safe as far as I can tell. I can see most of the kids that I know around here. I see they made it out, so I am grateful that everybody got out alive, but like I said, never take a fire for granted. Never take a fire for granted.”
Many are asking where and how to donate items to those affected by the apartment fire. At this time, the only drop off sites are City Hall in Pembroke and Bryan County Family Connection. WTOC watched car after car pull up with people dropping off whatever they could to help.
“It doesn’t say anything that I didn’t already know about Pembroke,” said Alex Floyd, Pembroke City Administrator. “It’s a very tight-knit community. People help each other every chance they get. We’ve seen it through hurricanes, fires, anything you can imagine. They band together quick, and they’re quick to help each other out.”
“We all stick together, and when times get rough, we just have to be there and support each other, and in the end, that’s what God wants us to do,” said Magen Smith, who stopped by with several loads of items for the families.
The effects of the fire were even felt beyond the city, and even beyond county lines.
“Our employee in the Savannah office, her son lives in the apartment complex where the fire occurred, and she sent out a list of donations that are needed and the items that were lost, and the different sizes and that sort of thing. We got that this morning, so Georgia Hospice Care will be making a donation to the families that lost.”
Several local businesses stepped up, not only helping to provide a meal on the house for victims, but also the first responders who worked to put the fire out and keep everyone safe.
“It’s a tragedy,” said Charles Higgins, Owner, Higgins Place Restaurant. “I’d hate for it to happen to me, and you know, you just put yourself in their position and you try to support them as much as you can. Let them know people are here for them.”
The fundraising effort will continue throughout the weekend with donations being accepted at several locations, including at an event for the whole community Saturday night at Lucy Belle Farm.
“From 6 to 9, we want everyone to come out, listen to some good music, walk around the property to relax, or for self-reflection, and then hang out with everybody as they see fit,” said Devon Hassan, Lucy Belle Farm.
City Hall has been a collection point, but it’s now closing, The city administrator says the community pool will be a drop-off point over the weekend.
Bryan County Family Connection is taking donations for clothes and other items:
- Female pregnant size 18- 22, size 8 shoes, xl - 2x shirt, due in August
- Baby boy 10 months, 6-12month clothes, size 3-4 diapers, Enfamil formula
- Adult female - unsure of sizes
- Adult male - 1x shirt, 44-46 pants, shoes 8-9
- Women’s 22 clothes shirt 2xl or 3xl
- Size 8.5 women’s shoe
- Men’s 48 pants
- 3xl shirts
- Shoes men’s 9.5
- 11 y/o girl- 16 kids
- 6.5 women’s shoe
- 7 y/o girl- 10/12 kids
- 13 kids’ shoe
- 6 y/o girl 6/7
- 11 kids’ shoe
- Woman - 2x shirt, 22-24 pants. Size 11 shoes
- Man - L shirt, 38x30 pants, size 12 shoes
- Female- large shirt, 12 pants petite, size 7 shoe
- Boy - 8 years old, sz 8 clothes, sz 2 shoes
- He’s 8 years old clothes sizes 8 shoe size 13
A list of essentials:
- Toiletries Socks
- Underwear Blankets
- Toys for kids
- Non-perishable food and snacks
- Paper products