DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Following an apartment fire that occurred overnight in Dayton, The American Red Cross is stepping in to help more than than 20 people displaced from their homes.

The fire started around 2 a.m. Tuesday in an apartment building on West Norman Avenue. Fire crews said the blaze is believed to have started in the basement. While the fire was quickly put out, the units sustained too much damage to be habitable.

“It’s never a good time to have a house fire, an apartment fire,” said Marita Salkowski, regional communications director for the Red Cross in central and southern Ohio. “But this fire comes at a particularly bad time, during the holidays, especially since a lot of children are impacted. We are helping 22 total individuals, nine of which are children that have been displaced by this apartment fire from this morning.”

She said while there were not enough people in need of assistance to consider starting a shelter in the area, the organization has made strides to help those impacted by the fire get back on their feet.

“The Red Cross deals with the most immediate needs of people right after the disaster has occurred,” said Salkowski. “Those immediate needs are sheltering, feeding, making sure that their health and their mental healthcare needs are addressed.”

In this case, Salkowski said the Red Cross was able to provide client assistance cards to the displaced families. The cards, she said, operate similar to a debit card and contain enough funds for people to pay for their basic needs following the emergency. This includes hotel stays, food, clothing and other necessities. As part of their commitment to offering healthcare to victims of emergencies, they also helped replace medication lost in the fire. Additionally, they’ll offer mental health services to those struggling to cope with the fire.

“We have licensed therapists that volunteer with the Red Cross,” she said. “These people help the victims of that fire talk through that emotional aspect of what has happened to them. Often times we see these fires and think about all the physical items that have been lost if there are personal items in the house, [but] it goes beyond that. Tragedy impacts people mentally and emotionally and these disaster mental health professionals are able to help these families start to cope.”

Salkowski said while the holiday season is an incredibly difficult time to deal with unexpected loss, like a home fire, they tend to be more common around this time of the year. With people cooking more, using candles as decorations, using heating appliance and lighting Christmas trees, accidents are more prone to happen. One free and easy way to keep fires from getting out, however, is simply having working smoke detectors in the home.

“The Red Cross does provide free smoke detectors and the installation of those smoke detectors of those smoke detectors is crucially important. In cases of people living in an apartment, if you’re a renter and you live in an individual unit, you can call us. We can come to your apartment and install smoke alarms. We install them in homes as well.”

While the Red Cross has supplied help to these families, Salkowski said donations are needed to continue aiding those who’ve been victims of house fires.

“The Red Cross does have a home fire campaign, financial assistance is needed to keep that campaign up and running. If you would like to donate to the the Red Cross home fire campaign, a donation can be made at 1-800-RED-CROSS or”