The Embers Motor Lodge in Graham has been reduced to a burnt-out husk after a destructive fire tore through this 65-year-old landmark during the small hours of the morning on Sunday.
And the 37 people displaced by the fire are now being assisted by gift cards, clothing, and other assistance by the Red Cross, as well as Graham’s city hall, which is helping to route aid in the right direction.
By the time the smoke cleared later that morning, this devastating blaze had rendered a total loss of the 12,000-square foot structure, which had long been a familiar presence at 127 Parvas Lane, – a small road that lies off of the interstate interchange for NC 54 in Graham (Exit 148).
The fire has also displaced more than three dozen people – many of whom were apparently long-term residents of the lodge before its destruction less than a week before Christmas.
According to Graham’s fire chief Tommy Cole, the first fire companies to reach the scene of this blaze arrived about five minutes after they were dispatched at 5:05 a.m. Cole nevertheless acknowledged that the fire had already reached an advanced state by the time these initial detachments pulled into view.
“When we arrived on the scene, there was heavy smoke spewing from the building,” Cole recalled in an interview Monday, “and about 15 or 20 minutes into the incident, we had to pull a second alarm.”
The city’s fire chief added that it took firefighters most of the morning to extinguish the conflagration, which wasn’t officially brought under control until 11:39 a.m.
Cole conceded that the fire department’s inquiry into the cause of the blaze has so far been “inconclusive.” He added, however, that the fire appears to have broken out in the motor lodge’s attic, which may help explain how it spread as far as it did before it roused any of the building’s occupants.
“The first caller,” Cole went on to explain, “reported waking up after hearing a noise and seeing the fire through a hole in the ceiling.”
The fire chief stressed that the safe evacuation of the building’s occupants was the first priority for the city’s firefighters once they arrived at the scene of Sunday’s calamity. Cole said that his department ultimately had to requisition a bus to move all of these people to safety while firefighters labored to put out the blaze.
Cole went on to note that the plight of the lodge’s former residents has inspired a strong show of support and good will from the wider community. He added that in response to numerous inquiries from residents, city officials have temporarily agreed to use Graham’s city hall and police department as clearinghouses for donated gift cards.
Meanwhile, the local Red Cross has scrambled a team of volunteers to tend to the needs of the 37 people who emerged from the inferno.
“The Red Cross [has] provided financial assistance for [their] immediate needs and cold weather clothing essentials,” the organization elaborated in a statement on Sunday. “In addition to immediate needs, Red Cross team members are available to provide mental and spiritual care to anyone who needs it.”
According to Cole, the Red Cross encourages donations of clothing and other items to be sent to Goodwill Industries or the Salvation Army, along with notes to say that they’re intended for the victims of Sunday’s fire.
By Wednesday, a special fund had been set up by First Baptist Church in Graham; the church also serves as a drop-off location for clothes, food, toiletries, hygiene items, and cleaning supplies. For more information, click HERE