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Aftermath of the fire
Majority of residents can return
Kathy Clements (right) hugs her mother, Frances Thompson, as she returns to her apartment at Spruce Village on Friday. Thompson was displaced by Thursday’s fire at the complex but she and two-thirds of the other residents were allowed to return the next day. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)
Sunday, June 17, 2012
By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer
Residents of nearly two-thirds of the apartments at Spruce Village were given the green light to move back in Friday afternoon, a day after a fire heavily damaged the complex and displaced about 100 people.
According to Betsy Ashbrook, a Red Cross volunteer, and information she provided, the apartment complex notified Red Cross that residents of all but 36 of the 101 apartments (one or two of the 36 were vacant) could move back in as of Friday afternoon.
Red Cross officials and the apartment complex were trying to notify residents of the 65 occupiable apartments and the families and friends that some were staying with that those residents could move back in, according to Ashbrook.
Martinsville Fire Marshal Ted Anderson said Friday that 21 apartments were damaged by fire, smoke and water “to the point they cannot be occupied.”
Ashbrook said it may be a month or so before some residents can move back into the complex, which is on Spruce Street in Martinsville.
The Red Cross is encouraging residents of those apartments to make arrangements on their own to find a place to live, but if they cannot do that, the Red Cross will try to help with its limited resources, she said.
Linette Nuckols, executive director of the local Red Cross chapter, said often, but not always, the Red Cross will pay for someone in need to stay in a motel for three nights, and possibly, depending on need, an additional night or two.
Nuckols and Ashbrook said one person has offered a house and some residential properties have offered spaces to those needing shelter. They encourage others who can help displaced residents of Spruce Village to call the Red Cross (632-5127).
Nuckols said the Red Cross put up 13 people Thursday night. Many others made other arrangements, such as staying with families and friends, officials have said.
Ashbrook said as of about 4 p.m. Friday, the Red Cross had approved paying for two people to stay in motels Friday night, but a few other Spruce Village residents were paying themselves to stay in motels.
A call to Spruce Village early Friday afternoon was not returned.
Kathy Clements of Danville said her mother, 81-year-old Frances Thompson, could move back in to her apartment Friday but she had decided to stay a second night at the Super 8. She was enjoying her stay there.
Thompson, who was using a walker, said, “I’m just glad I’m going to be coming back” to Spruce Village. She said she checked her apartment on the second floor, and she saw no damage.
Clements praised the apartment complex for cleaning up the facilities so quickly that most of the residents could move back in on Friday.
But she said she felt badly for residents whose apartments are damaged so badly they cannot move back in yet.
Following the interview with Clements and Thompson, an apartment complex employee told the Bulletin that the news media was not allowed and asked the media to leave the property.
A sign in front of Spruce Village lists F&W Management LC. That is a property management company in Roanoke, according to its website.
Sherry Milliron, director of affordable housing from F&W Management who was at Spruce Village on Friday, was reached by phone there Friday afternoon.
However, she said she could not comment on the schedule for residents to move back, assessment of damage from the fire and related matters.