Red Cross responds to 3 fires Sunday, helps get victims out of cold

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- A Wind Chill Warning was in effect on Monday, January 6th, and will remain in effect through noon Tuesday. A combination of very cold air and strong winds led to dangerously low wind chill values -- and some are in dire circumstances in this bitter cold. Thankfully, the community is doing its best to step up and help those in need -- including a group of people suddenly homeless.

Dozens in southeastern Wisconsin found themselves in a situation that could very well happen to anyone. They were displaced by fire -- and were working to find temporary housing in the bitter cold.

The American Red Cross was salvation Monday for 36 people -- including a few children. The Red Cross said it responded to calls seeking help for victims from three fires that occurred Sunday night.

"In the early morning hours, in the bitter cold, the Red Cross got three different calls for three different fires in southeastern Wisconsin. This time of the year we expect to be busy, but of course, not that busy! We are offering a warm place to stay, blankets, shoes, clothing," Sara Bruesewitz with the American Red Cross said.

Volunteers scrambled to find resources to help, and the doors to Christ the King Baptist Church were opened as a shelter.

"Any disaster of any size is devastating to those that are going through it, and when you`re left homeless and it's cold, it can be very traumatizing. We are very glad we had volunteers that are willing to get out of their warm beds and help people with emergency shelter, food, clothing, a hug -- to say 'this is going to be okay,'" Bruesewitz said.

Left in sub-zero temperatures with just the clothes on their backs, these fire victims were fortunate to have this kind of emergency relief.

"It just reminds all of us that things can change at a moment`s notice," Bruesewitz said.

Meanwhile, across town, the Hope House provided shelter from the bitter cold for some of the city's homeless.

Karen Kubik has been staying at the Hope House on W. Orchard -- and as a temporary resident, she's been able to take advantage of their resources.

"With the cold, arctic weather, it's been a blessing to have a shelter. I have a roof over my head. If I didn't, I'd hate to think where I'd be sleeping," Kubik said.

Executive Director Kenneth Schmidt says the agency is part of a wide community effort to help people stay safe from the dangerous cold.

"Hope House is part of a consortium called the Shelter Task Force. The Shelter Task Force works as a group. We arrange things like overflow shelter, which means there`s extra beds created within the system so folks always have a place to stay. There`s also a network of warming rooms out there. So if folks are coming in and just need a place to sit to get out the cold that exists also," Schmidt said.

All shelter operations need your help and support. They could use donations like hats, gloves and mittens, as well as financial support.

The Red Cross says it sees an increase in fires during these winter months, and is actually over budget with all the latest disasters.

The American Red Cross offers the following cold weather and fire prevention tips:


As this latest outbreak of cold air moves across the country, people could experience wind chills as cold as 60 degrees below zero in some areas. To stay safe during this dangerous weather, follow these steps:


    Red Cross workers are also responding to numerous home fires across the country. During extremely cold weather, the risk for a fire in someone’s home can increase. To avoid fire danger, you should remember the following: