Back-to-back fires keep Providence firefighters, Red Cross busy

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) -- It was a busy day for Providence firefighters on Sunday as they battled two significant fires within hours of each other, but the fire department wasn't the only agency that responded amid the heat and humidity.

All available companies were called to Elmwood Avenue early Sunday afternoon after a multi-family home caught fire. A number of people were inside at the time and several were rescued by firefighters using ladders.

In all, 19 people were displaced by the fire. They're now being assisted by the local chapter of the American Red Cross, which provides those affected by disaster with basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter.

"It's been a very busy weekend," R.I. Red Cross Executive Director Susan Roberts said Monday. "The American Red Cross, as we always do, we respond in times of need."

Two of the residents were taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation and they've since been treated and released, according to Battalion Chief Steven Houle.

A firefighter who was also transported to the hospital was still there as of Monday evening, Houle said, but is expected to be released in the near future.

Investigators returned to the scene Monday as they continue to search for the cause of that fire.

Later on Sunday, flames broke out inside a building on Admiral Street that houses a church, the pastor of which was asleep upstairs at the time. Pastor Ed Kanneh said someone rushed inside to alert him to the fire.

"Thank God for that guy because who knows what would have happened had he not come upstairs to wake me up," Kanneh told Eyewitness News on Sunday.

The scorching temperatures were also a concern at that scene but the Red Cross was there to assist firefighters and those who escaped the fire.

"When they come inside our trucks, we provide water for them," Roberts explained. "If they need emergency services, of course we call 911."

A firefighter suffered a sprained ankle at that scene and has since been treated and released, Houle said.

The cause of that fire also remains under investigation.

The Red Cross also responded Monday to a house fire on Huron Street in Warwick. They're assisting one family who was displaced.

"We will follow up with resources with them, and follow up to see if those families are doing well," Roberts said.

The agency responds to at least one local fire a day on average, according to Roberts. She said emergencies can impact all walks of life, so volunteers have to be prepared for anything.

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