Always hate to hear stories of families being impacted by fire, especially during the winter.  Thankfully, we have a great local chapter of the Red Cross.

According to a press release we've received, thanks to the help of local Red Cross volunteer Joel Huenemann, a fire that claimed the newly-rented home of a Kettle River family of four didn’t result in disaster.  Huenemann, a long-time disaster worker for the Northland Chapter met with two adults and two pre-teenaged children to provide them with emergency lodging, food, and clothing.

“We’re in the heart of fire season,” said Northland Chapter executive director Judy Hanne Gonzalez.  “Thankfully, everyone is okay after the blaze, but it’s a good time to make sure your home has a working smoke detector and that you have a family disaster plan in place.”

The Northland Chapter is now distributing 100 free smoke detectors to Northland residents thanks to a grant from ArcelorMittal.  The company operates the ArcelorMittal-Minorca Mine in Virginia, MN.  Each unit has a 10-year lithium battery that doesn’t need to be replaced.  There is a limit of one unit per family but the detectors are being given on a first-come, first-served basis, according to Gonzalez.  The smoke detectors can be picked up at the United Way of NE Minnesota, 229 W. Lake St., Chisholm, or at the Northland Chapter, 2524 Maple Grove Road, Duluth.

The Northland Chapter responds to about 100 local disaster annually.  Red Cross disaster relief includes emergency housing, food, clothing, medicine and medical supplies, eyeglasses, health services, and disaster counseling.  Relief takes the form of preloaded debit cards, that are used in local businesses by clients, thus pumping up to $1000,000 in charitable contributions back into the community it serves.

The Red Cross depends on the generous support of the American public to assist people affected by disasters. If you would like to help, please consider making a donation today by visiting www.redcrossmn.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.