WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — There are ongoing community efforts to help more than 100 people left homeless after a deadly fire at a Wilkes-Barre hotel last week.
Flames broke out in the Redington Hotel efficiencies, which is part of the Genetti Hotel and Conference Center Complex in downtown Wilkes-Barre last Tuesday. The blaze left one dead and over 100 displaced. More than half of the fire victims are still trying to find a place to stay.
The term “crisis-mode” is being used by some social service agency officials. They are describing the ongoing efforts to help those forced out of their apartments at the Reddington-Hotel Efficiencies last week. But the community is coming together to help those in need.
“Just get a place. I’m looking for a place to live. I’m looking for housing, but a lot of people are not taking housing because of COVID,” Tony Mattero said last Friday.
Mattero and other fire victims were having a tough time finding places to stay until they can figure out when they will be able to return to their apartments at the Redington-Hotel Efficiencies. One resident was killed in the fire. More than 100 others were forced out into the early-morning cold. The American Red Cross is helping those fire victims, putting them up in area hotels.
“The issue is making connections for actual housing and help these people be placed,” American Red Cross NEPA Executive Director Sherry Nealon said.
The American Red Cross responded to the fire scene and has been helping victims find permanent places to live, but they admit it’s been a challenge.
“So right now our problem is that we have so many people who are displaced at the moment and looking for ways to help them make connections with available housing,” Nealon said.
As of Monday morning the community has stepped up to help.
“We have had people step up. We secured another 15 apartments today where some have offered they would expedite the application process for us,” Nealon said.
The Salvation Army is collecting items for the fire victims.
“So our part as the Salvation Army is to collect any item that anyone is not utilizing in their homes. Clothing, furniture items, and food. We’ll collect it for next two weeks and then we’ll hand them out to fire victims,” Wilkes-Barre Salvation Army Corp Officer Lieutenant Ismael Ortiz said.
Ortiz says the timing of the fire is creating challenges.
“With the great need we have already with coats and warm clothing for some of our homeless folks in our area. The fire on top of that puts a little bit of a strain on us. But I think we have a great community coming together during these hard times. I think it will see us through,” Ortiz said.
The United Way of Wyoming Valley is helping organize the relief effort. A relief fund has been set up for donations.
A Pennsylvania State Police fire marshal has ruled the fire accidental. The cause of the fire has not been released.