‘Giving back:’ Red Cross provides shelter, resources for victims of Bayside apartment fire

Fire at White Oaks Apartments in Bayside

BAYSIDE -- The American Red Cross has been busy connecting residents impacted by the three-alarm fire in Bayside Saturday, March 30 with resources they need to reclaim their lives.

William Branch's life was gutted by flames.

"The memories and the images, they weigh on you. Standing there, watching everything you've worked for going up in smoke, valuables that you will never be able to replace," said Branch.

Fire at White Oaks Apartments in Bayside

Branch lived at the White Oaks Apartments in Bayside for five years. Early Saturday morning, fire started on a first-floor balcony, prompting the evacuation of the entire building -- and causing millions of dollars in damage.

Two miles away from his former home, Branch and other displaced residents were at St. Eugene's Congregation and School near Port Washington Road and Calumet Road on Wednesday, April 3 -- where helping hands awaited.

St. Eugene's Congregation and School

"Covering anything from assistance that they might need in this recovery phase, connection to housing, to paperwork and identification," said Justin Kern, American Red Cross of Wisconsin spokesman.

From stacks of towels to dishware, the gym was packed. The Red Cross brought together a dozen agencies, like the health department and school district to connect those impacted with available resources. There was even a steady supply of meals.

"It's giving back. It's giving forward. It's paying forward. It's doing what you can for someone else," said Brian Kennedy, Kurt Schulz Deli Pastry Shoppe owner.

William Branch

It was all a sign of tremendous community support for a group forced to start over.

"It's kind of difficult to put in words how grateful we are to have the people come out and respond the way they have," said Branch.

The church was also open as a shelter, initially supporting 14 people. The past person left the shelter Wednesday morning.

FOX6 News was told all of the roughly 135 people impacted had found temporary or long-term housing.

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