Dozens still displaced by Pensacola apartment fire seek help

Northwest Florida

PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — More than three dozen tenants at a Pensacola apartment complex are still trying to recover after a fire destroyed their apartment building last week. 

The Peachtree Commons apartment fire destroyed 16 units and displaced 37 people Friday. 

Dozens of firefighters worked to put out the fire at the apartment, 4600 Twin Oaks Drive, but by the time the fire was put out, the damage was already done. 

“Only thing I was thinking about was getting me and my babies out of the house,” said tenant Chantrell Edwards, who is staying at a hotel as she works on finding a new place to live. “I was in shock. I couldn’t believe what was happening.” 

Laura Merritt, a Pensacola community advocate, has been working on getting help for those affected by the fire. 

“This needs to be a community effort,” Merritt said, adding she hopes churches or other community organizations can help. “People have to come together.” 

William Barker, who uses a wheelchair, said the fire took him by surprise. Barker and others at the apartment complex all made it out without injury due to working fire alarms, according to Escambia County Fire Rescue. 

Barker said Wednesday he was given money by the American Red Cross, for which he is thankful, but that money has run out and now he’s left wondering what is next. 

Tenants reported getting $500 to $800 from the Red Cross.

“I need clothes. I need furniture,” he said. “The Red Cross gave us a little money. I used that to get into a hotel room. That’s gone.” 

Those who have been displaced are hopeful the help will come. 

“Anything helps, anything counts,” Edwards said. ”It doesn’t matter how big or small it is because like I said everybody in this building lost everything.”

Merritt said she has coordinated with Peachtree Commons property manager and donations can be dropped off at the leasing office. 

Merritt said disaster strikes in a second, so she’s calling on locals to be prepared. 

“I’m asking tenants all over Pensacola, Escambia County, all over the world to get renters insurance so when something like this happens, you have something definite to depend on,” she said. 

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