DENVER – A host of resources will be available Wednesday for people displaced by the massive fire at the Westbury Apartments in Westminster, and there are several fundraisers taking place to help raise money and supplies for families out of their homes.
A resource center is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday at Silver Hills Middle School, located at 12400 Huron Street in Westminster.
There will be representatives from the Salvation Army, Red Cross, Unison Housing and Tri-County Public Health on-hand for support, a victims’ advocate and others to help those affected by the Sunday fire.
“I don’t think we’ve ever had a fire of the scale (where) we’ve had this many families that were affected by the event,” said Greg Moser, the emergency management coordinator for the city of Westminster. “To have 70 plus families lose everything is, I think, unprecedented for our community.”
The Crossing Church is hosting a barbecue and carnival in partnership with Noah’s Ark Preschool and Child Care from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday to take in donations for families affected by the fire. They are taking toiletries, clothing, household items, gift cards and other items during the barbecue and will continue to accept items at the church itself through July 29.
The event will be held at 3501 W. 104th Ave.
Westminster authorities have directed other donations to go to the local Red Cross chapter or the Salvation Army. They are also in the midst of creating a donation center.
“Whenever bad things happen, everybody’s hearts open up and they want to help as best they can,” Moser said.
Ask Misty Gardner about donations after a disaster and she can fill you in — her family lost just about everything in December when a fire burned down their home.
“It’s almost like your heart is broken because everything you own, everything you’ve built, is gone,” Gardner said.
That fire was sparked by the family’s laptop. Since then, she’s received help from the community and is now looking to pay it forward.
“I want to lighten the load off of these families and let them know there is a person who has been through this,” she said.
Gardner said donors should only give items that the families and individuals affected by the fire really need. She was left with an entire storage unit full of things her family wasn’t able to use after their home caught fire, she said.
“They’re stuck with a bunch of things that they probably won’t even go through," she said. "In my storage unit, I have things I haven’t even gone through because I got it all at once."
Instead of keeping it in storage, she’s looking for ways to give it to those in need. She has already helped 20 other families since December who are dealt with property loss from fires.
Gardner said donors can put themselves in the shoes of the people they are giving to — what would they really, truly need?
“Take a step back and just think, 'If that was me, what would I want?'” she said. “The main thing is to ask. Ask what is needed."
Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were brought in on Monday to help investigate the cause of the fire, which killed two people and injured 14 others when it broke out early Sunday morning. A 69-unit building at the complex was destroyed.
The Westminster Fire Department asks anyone who witnessed the fire or knows more about its cause to contact the department at 303-658-4360. Anyone needing assistance after the fire is asked to call the American Red Cross at 1-800-417-0495.