PUEBLO — A fire on Tuesday afternoon at the historic Sacred Heart Orphanage, which is now an apartment complex, forced around 150 people to evacuate. The Pueblo community rallied to supply thousands of dollars worth of donations to the families without a home for the time being.
Those with the Pueblo Fire Department tell News5 they first got a call at 5:02 p.m. on Tuesday about the fire. They said the part of the complex impacted has 50 units, and because of special circumstances, all of them had to be cleared. The building, which is over 100 years old, only has one main power line, water line, and gas line, which is why all of the units were affected.
The fire started in one apartment, and was contained to the single unit. However, some other units could have gotten residual water damage after fighting the fire.
One of the residents, Ashley Rose, has lived there for around a year with her two young daughters. She said their unit only suffered from smoke and water damage. "I get emotional at times, but I try to bottle it up for my kids. I've got to be strong for them because I'm the only one they have," said Rose.
Rose was one of dozens of residents who received donations at the hotels where they are currently being housed. Members from two Facebook groups, the Steel City Community Group and Pueblo United, along with the Catholic Charities Diocese of Pueblo, brought food, clothing, toys, and sanitary products to the displaced residents on Tuesday. "This just shows exactly that there is that Pueblo pride out there, and it's just not talk," said Christopher Osorao of the Steel City Community Group.
Those with Catholic Charities said a lot of the people living in the complex are also families who utilize their programs. "Most of these people that lived in that housing don't even have cars, so they're not able to go get groceries, they're not able to get diapers for their children, things that we take for granted... So, even now, after this moment of crisis is over, we want them to know where we are and where their resources are," said Tiffany Garcia, a member of the Catholic Charities.
Those with the American Red Cross said they are currently housing 82 clients out of about 150. They said the remaining people could have family in the area who can help.
The donations were estimated to be worth around $4,000. "Pueblo still has a heart for each other. It says that they haven't resorted to the new ways, there's still the old school ways where everybody looks out for each other," said Kevin Howard of the Pueblo United group.
According to the fire department, there are hopes that by the end of the week some of the first residents will be allowed to return to the building.
The building is privately owned by Fenix Historic Investments.
The investigation into the cause of the fire is still ongoing, but foul play was not initially suspected.