VINTON, Va. – Residents are continuing to deal with pain and heartbreak after a fire destroyed their homes.
On Saturday morning, Philip Ashwell had just gotten home from a late-night of playing cards with friends. After getting ready to go to bed, he was greeted by a loud knocking at his door.
“I thought it was a robber and someone was trying to get it. When I went downstairs and opened the door, people were yelling at me to get out!” Ashwell said.
Little did Ashwell know, right next to his apartment there were flames engulfing the D.R. Music Center.
Days after the incident, Ashwell is trying to remain positive and keep moving forward.
“A lot of people just shut down. I said is that an option? I didn’t know it was an option,” Ashwell said.
Luckily Ashwell did not have to do it alone.
Several local organizations and the Red Cross helped him get through this week. Whether it was helping with clothes or finding a new place to live, Ashwell said the support means everything to him.
“I never knew so many people could care ... that I don’t even know,” Ashwell said.
Communications Director for the Red Cross of Virginia, Jonathan McNamara, said that Red Cross is always there at the scene to help and give support while first responders work to put out the fire.
“We can take some of that stress off of their shoulders and let them take a deep breath,” McNamara said.
Ashwell found a new apartment on Friday and it happened to be just down the block from his old place. While he says it’s still emotional to pass by, it’s getting easier by the day.
And his love for Vinton and the town never stopped.
“No other community in the world is like Vinton,” Ashwell said. “No other town is like Vinton.”