Red Cross concerned after spike in house fires

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – An early morning fire in Harrisburg forced 21 people out of their homes, putting further stress on an already strained American Red Cross.

Crews were called to the 600 block of Geary Street around 2:40 a.m. Firefighters arrived on the scene in four minutes, but the fire was already on the move.

“It was a quick moving fire. The fire was high in the ceiling and just ran down the row homes,” Fire Chief Brian Enterline said.

Johnnie Spivey, 26, lives at 610 Geary Street, the house where the fire started. He was not home when the fire started, but says he got a call saying his house was gone.

“He said there was no house, and as you can see this is not a house,” Spivey said.

Six people lived in the home. Spivey lost two snakes and an iguana. His two dogs survived,

“This is our New Year’s Eve. We don’t have anything,” Spivey said. “Everybody made it out fine. That is the best part. That is all that matters right now.”

The American Red Cross is helping the seven families who were displaced. The non-profit has responded to several fires in the last two weeks.

“The response over the past few weeks has been staggering. We have helped over 115 individuals who have lost everything to the devastation of home fire. It has been a real drain on our resources so we are really hoping the community will support us at this important time,” said Ellen Kyzer, Regional CEO of the American Red Cross.

Kyzer says monetary donations are the most helpful and can be made online at

“We know that January is a really busy time. January is normally when we see a spike in home fires so we are concerned. This is a really early spike in the number of responses we’re having,” Kyzer said.

The cause of the Geary Street fire is under investigation.


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