Red Cross helps homeowner after fire makes house unlivable

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- Firefighters are typically the first to respond when a home goes up in flames, but there are other responders that help pick up the pieces once the damage is done. The Red Cross is helping get people back on their feet after their home is destroyed in a fire.

"Had it not been for them I would have been homeless,” said Steven Meehan.

Steven Meehan was cooking dinner Tuesday night when his kitchen caught fire.

“I went into the kitchen and there were just flames going all over the top of the stove. It was all full of smoke, I couldn’t see anything. It was terrifying.”

Meehan couldn't get out of the house. When firefighters got to the home they helped him get out safely.

"I felt helpless.”

The fire left Meehan’s home temporarily unsafe to live in. So the fire department called in The Red Cross to help.

"We’re all there for one goal and that's to help the client so it's always good to have a good relationship with our partners,” said Red Cross Volunteer Mike O’Brien.

O’Brien responded to Meehan’s house fire and was able to get him set up in a hotel for the next week.

"We have client case workers that follow up and are continually in contact with them on their road to recovery and getting the support they need,” said O’Brien.

The Rockford Fire Department says The Red Cross does much more than disaster relief and is a huge help in getting families back on their feet after a fire.

“It’s traumatic, they're losing memories, their home, clothes, they don't know what to do, so we try and guide them through that process that you’re going to be able to come out of this,” said Chief Derek Bergsten of the Rockford Fire Department.

Meehan says The Red Cross volunteers and the firefighters who helped him are his guardian angels.

"Thank you and god bless you. Thank you for helping to keep me safe and out of harm’s way,” said Meehan.

Meehan says he's not sure when he'll be able to go back to his home, but knows he's safe with the help of The Red Cross.

The fire department says The Red Cross helps them install free smoke alarms in homes several times a year to prevent fires from happening.