Reno, NV - It's been just over a week since flames erupted at the Santa Fe Hotel in downtown Reno. Twenty-two people, including an 8-month-old baby were left without a home for the holidays. The Red Cross says in light of all of the tragedies that struck Northern Nevada this year, the fire could not have come at a worse time.
"It's really unfortunate for me because I lost everything," says Darryl Jackson. He lived inside the room where the fire started on December 20. He'd just got home from work that afternoon when he saw a corner of his room on fire. He called on his neighbor for help.
"He ran back in my room and told me, 'Johnny please help me take this out!' And I'm thinking he's talking about trash, he didn't say fire. And when I went in there, it was a full fledged fire," says John Vounas, who lived in the room next door.
Pretty soon, firefighters were there, dousing the flames.
"There was nothing left of my room," says Jackson.
The Red Cross stepped in and found temporary shelter at the Ramada for the nearly two-dozen residents. But it wasn't easy. The fire came right after several large-scale disasters in Northern Nevada. From the Amtrak collision, to the Air Races crash, and then the Caughlin Fire, resources are running out.
And at the end of the year, so is money.
"It's just been one disaster right after the other," says Chris Reed of the Northern Nevada chapter of the American Red Cross. "So it's been very draining on our funds."
The local chapter of the Red Cross is run almost entirely by volunteers. At fires like the one last week, the organization provides money, food, and clothing. And temporary shelter. Normally, it's three days. When the displaced residents find a home, the organization typically pays the first month's rent.
After losing his home in the Santa Fe Hotel fire, John Vounas hasn't yet found a new place to live. As for his friend, Darryl Jackson, despite all he's lost, he's thankful to still have a job as an electrician and a new lease.
"So I'm in an apartment now but I still have the same clothes, no furniture. Stuff like that. So I'm out of the streets, but just living life on life's terms right now," says Jackson. "The Red Cross, they did backflips for us so we appreciate that."
Fire investigators still don't know what caused the fire at the Santa Fe Hotel.
The local Red Cross comes to the assistance of hundreds of people in Northern Nevada every year. Within the last six months, it has helped 280 people. Despite all of the stress, Chris Reed of the Red Cross says she loves her job and helping people. She says it feels like getting a million dollars each day.