Fire Fatalities Confirmed at North Texas Homeless Shelter

January 6, 2009

Fire ripped through a small-town homeless shelter in the Northeast Texas town of Paris early in the morning of Jan. 5, killing multiple people and forcing dozens to be relocated, the town’s fire chief said.

Paris Fire Chief Ronnie Grooms said confirmed the fatalities to the Associated Press. He said an alarm sounded at about 3 a.m. in the shelter, which is run by a nonprofit faith-based organization. The Dallas Morning News reported that five people were killed.

Calls did not go through Monday morning to a phone line for Seed Sowers Christians in Action, a group that set up the shelter in 1984.

A firewall confined damage to the southern part of the building, a brick structure near downtown that was formerly a business. Assistant Police Chief Bob Hundley said the building partially collapsed.

The Paris News reports that the American Red Cross has moved about 26 people to an emergency shelter at the First United Methodist Church of Paris.

Grooms says no cause has been determined at the shelter, located about 100 miles northeast of Dallas. A long table piled with donated clothes is thought to be a possible starting point but arson is not suspected.

According to the group’s Web site, Seed Sowers Christians in Action relies on contributions to provide services to the homeless and low-income people. The shelter has 30 beds for men and 11 for women and children and provides a soup kitchen that provides meals five days a week, according to the site.

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