Posted By: Camila Orti
Lincoln fire crews were kept busy over the Fourth of July holiday, responding to at least 20 fire-related calls overnight.
The Waterbrook Apartments near North 27th and Folkways was one of their stops after a rocket caught a second-floor balcony on fire. The blaze left three families without a home.
"I was very shocked you know because I did not expect this to happen," resident Yohannes Thuk said.
Thuk says he got the call from his neighbor around 10:30 that his apartment was on fire. Investigators say the wind blew a rocket-type firework into a storage closet on the balcony of a second story apartment, igniting a fire that spread to Thuk's apartment above. His grandmother was inside sleeping at the time; luckily a neighbor helped her get out.
"I was glad that someone saved my grandma because I wanted her to be okay and safe," Thuk's 10-year-old son Puot said.
Now, debris and water damage coat the inside of the family's apartment, making it unlivable. Thuk, his wife and five children are living at a hotel until they can find a new home. Their belongings are piled in the lawn- thousands of dollars worth of items including furniture, a TV and other electronics.
"I couldn't even afford to rend the hotel if it wasn't for American Red Cross," Thuk said.
Among several other calls, firefighters responded to a house fire near Wilderness Ridge. Officials say it was started by a flying lantern.
"Unfortunately many people when they shoot off fireworks, they don't pay attention to where their fireworks are actually going," Fire Capt. Jeremy Gegg said.
None of the fire-related calls resulted in any injuries.
As for the families displaced from the Waterbrook Apartments, the Red Cross is paying for them to stay at a hotel until they can find a new home. Thuk says managers at the complex are trying to get his family into a new apartment starting Monday.