Narrative: Salvation Army assists with Kissimmee Vacation Lodge Fire

June 28, 2011 - 11:00 AM EDT
Dulcinea Cuellar
(813) 383-5620
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ORLANDO, Fla (June 28, 2011) -  Using the local resources they had, The Salvation of Orange and Osceola counties assisted first responders affected by the four-alarm fire at the Vacation Lodge in Kissimmee on Monday.  As told by Glenn Fite, Jr., Public Relations Coordinator for The Salvation Army Orlando Area Command:

Originally, Captain Phillip Irish and I were going to meet and pick up Lt. Herbert Frazier at the Kissimmee Corps, but, due to the logistics, it was more beneficial to meet Lt. Frazier at the scene of the fire. Captain Irish, Gene Daniels (operations director) and myself loaded up the Emergency Disaster Canteen with 12 cases of bottled water, and a large metal tin filled with ice. There were no other supplies available on campus.

I drove the canteen and Captain Irish followed me to the Vacation Lodge in Kissimmee. We arrived at the site around 2:00 PM. The traffic was backed up and one of the major lanes on West US 192 was closed making the entire area look like a parking lot.

I've never seen so many emergency vehicles at one location - Osceola County Fire Department , Osceola County Sheriff's Office, Office of Emergency Management, and paramedic vehicles.

We met at the command trailer and talked with the coordinators at the site of the fire. We made arrangements to distribute the water to the emergency personnel. They guided our three vehicles inside the "no entry" zones where we distributed seven cases of bottled water to the Fire Department and handed out another case of the bottled water on ice.

Captain Irish, Lt. Frazier, and I were allowed to walk inside the perimeter and were able to talk with several of the displaced residents.

A couple of the residents were very frustrated, as they were not being allowed back onto the property to try and retrieve any of their property, including their vehicles.

We explained to them that the emergency personnel had their job to do - to put our the fire completely and make the area safe again, just as we, The Salvation Army, had our job to do - to assist those in need. As we walked throughout the perimeter of the Vacation Lodge, we talked with fire fighters, deputies, Office of Emergency Management officials, and displaced residents.

Two hours later, Office of Emergency Management directed us to Centennial High School's gymnasium, where a temporary shelter had been established.

Lt. Frazier provided one of the displaced residents with transportation to the high school. The American Red Cross had been at the gym since two in the morning and had the intake process all set up.

We were informed by Becky Sebren, the Red Cross Director of Emergency Services for Osceola County, that 110 displaced people were directed to Centennial High School and that they should have all disaster survivors taken care of before the night was over. We delivered five more cases of bottled water, talked with Red Cross personnel, Office of Emergency Management officials, and a few more of the residents.

About The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army, an evangelical part of the universal Christian church established in 1865, has been supporting those in need in His name without discrimination for 130 years in the United States. Nearly 30 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through the broadest array of social services that range from providing food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless and opportunities for underprivileged children. 82 cents of every dollar spent is used to carry out those services in 5,000 communities nationwide. For more information, go to