Red Cross Helps Couple Pick Up The Pieces After A Home Fire

Colleen Hathaway/Red Cross Cascade Region

 “Alanna, Brandon and service dog, Jarvis at their new home”.  

One morning in March of 2023, Alanna Sowles’ husband Brandon woke up in their Euguene home and smelled something strange.  He went to investigate and found the kitchen and front door on fire.  Moving quickly, he grabbed a fire extinguisher and put out most of the fire before it could reach the attic.  He was able to get Alanna out of the house to safety.  The Eugene Fire Department responded right away; the fire marshall told them if Brandon had been even sixty seconds later, Alanna would have been trapped.  The apartment was badly damaged.

As the firemen finished putting out the fire, Alana’s landlord urged her and Brandon to call the Red Cross for assistance.  A ground team of volunteers arrived shortly, offering comfort, resources, and a stipend that Alanna says was “incredibly helpful” for immediate needs, including clothes.  She recalls that the attentive Red Cross volunteers asked them about their insurance.  Fortunately, they had renter’s insurance which allowed them to stay in a hotel for several months with their service dog, Jarvis, and paid for them to board their two cats.  

Alanna says that the financial resources were really helpful, but that the Red Cross also connected them with a crisis counselor who was very supportive.   Brandon is a disabled veteran and was at that time in between mental health providers.  Alanna says he was the one who had to confront the fire, put it out and save them.  The experience was traumatizing.  Through the connection with the Red Cross, Brandon was able to talk with his crisis counselor for several weeks.  Alanna says the crisis counselor was compassionate and knowledgeable about how to talk with people who have experienced the stress and trauma of a home fire. 

Alanna and Brandon are now first time homeowners.  Alanna says if there is anything she can share about this experience, beyond the attentiveness and compassion of the Red Cross volunteers, it is to make sure you have insurance, a plan in place, and have more than one fire extinguisher in your home.  Brandon had emptied the entire fire extinguisher which did not completely put the fire out.
Home fires are America’s deadliest and most frequent type of disaster, killing seven people in their home every day (American Red Cross, 2023).  Explore these tips.


1  American Red Cross. (2023, December 3).  Home Fire Campaign Helps Saves 2,000+ lives. resources and other information to help you prevent, respond to, and recover from a home fire. 

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