CAPITOL HEIGHTS, Md. - In 24 hours, 30 people lost their homes in five different fires across D.C., Maryland and Virginia over the holiday. The Red Cross National Capital Region set out to help those families in need, especially during such a time like Christmas.
“We're available whenever someone needs assistance,” said volunteer Eric Coates. “So whatever day it is, whatever holiday it is, we’re always out here.”
While working holidays comes with the territories for certain jobs, volunteering without pay on Christmas Day is something else completely.
“I just wanted to do something to give back to the community,” said Coates when asked why he started volunteering.
The fire on Dade Street in Capitol Heights meant he missed out on time with his own family to help another.
“They’ve been texting me all day wondering where I am,” Coates said. “Or all afternoon, I should say. I'm going to my mom’s house as soon as we’re done here.”
The fire left about ten people without a home. Jorge Reyes, who lives with his parents, his sister, her kids and some renters, says he and his family heard a boom and then smoke filled the house.
Thanks to the Red Cross, they have somewhere to go.
“They put us up somewhere to sleep tonight which is good,” Reyes said. “I appreciate that, it's great.”
Reyes says he's thankful everyone is safe, that first responders arrived so quickly preventing the fire from spreading, and for those out volunteering their time.
“My heart goes out to them, to their families,” he said. “I hope they had a Merry Christmas. They came out, they did a great job.”
Even today, maybe especially today, Coates says he’s glad to help.
“It’s been a blessing, it really has been,” he said.