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Waupelani Heights Fire Victims Getting By Three Weeks Later

by on July 26, 2013 6:35 AM

Three weeks following the devastating Waupelani Heights fire that left 40 people homeless, residents are starting to get back to relative normalcy.

The fire, which luckily resulted in no injuries, destroyed the 19-unit apartment building on Waupelani Drive on July 4 during the middle of Fourth Fest celebrations. It took 40 firefighters to control the blaze.

The cause of the fire was later determined to be a cooking accident. Several residents were grilling and called 9-1-1 when the fire spread.

The landlord has refused to comment on what will happen to the damaged building or whether displaced tenants will be receiving additional help.

“We are not giving out any information,” said a representative from NDC Real Estate Management, the company that owns Waupelani Heights.

No criminal charges will be filed as a result the blaze, according to the State College police.

“If anything, it would be a code violation,” said Lt. Chris Fishel. “There is a code enforcement office in the Centre Region. It’s going to be handled that way.”

A representative from the Centre Region Code Agency would not comment on the incident.

The displaced families have received a wave of support from area residents. P.J. Mullen from B94.5 has helped spread the word about various fundraisers to make sure the residents are taken care of while they recover. Most lost everything.

“We’ve met with most of the families,” Mullen said. “The support is still out there in Happy Valley. It was three weeks ago and people are still donating stuff every day. The Salvation Army has the families on an email list and they are in constant contact to make sure their needs are met. Every family I’ve followed up with has been taken care of tremendously.”

The Centre County Red Cross has also contributed to the relief effort. The organization has helped find housing for some of the families and continues to follow up with many of them.

“Right now, the biggest need is affordable housing,” said Ruth Markle, an executive coordinator at the Red Cross. “A few people have found housing but there are still people looking. Each family is in a different stage of recovery.”

“If they’ve found housing, then we might provide them with some money for bedding or other needs. We’ll continue to follow up until they all say, ‘I’m good and we’re fine.’”

Kevin Horne is the Managing Editor of Onward State and frequent contributor to He is also a Penn State senior, majoring in journalism and political science.
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