Red Cross volunteers gave up part of their holiday time with family and friends during the last two weeks to help 40 victims of 11 house fires in Erie and Niagara counties.

The volunteers, officially known as the Disaster Action Team of the American Red Cross Serving Erie & Niagara Counties, aided the victims of residential fires in Buffalo, Tonawanda, Cheektowaga, Lackawanna, Amherst, Hamburg, Youngstown and Niagara Falls, agency spokesman Jay Bonafede said.

“Red Cross assistance typically includes vouchers for temporary housing, food and clothing, as well as providing emotional support for those displaced by the fire,” Bonafede said. “The affected families then meet with caseworkers in the days following their respective disasters to work out a longer-term recovery plan.”

The hundred or so current members of the local Disaster Action Team are all trained volunteers who respond to the scenes of local disasters when called – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Nationally, the American Red Cross responds to as many as 170 house fires a day, Bonafede said.

He said the local Red Cross agency spends on average just over $1,000 when responding to a house fire affecting a family of four.

The agency always is in need of more volunteers and donations. Anyone seeking more information about joining the Disaster Action Team can call 878-2140 or visit

Financial donations to help families affected by house fires or other disasters can be made by visiting, calling 1-800-REDCROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to charge a donation to a cellphone bill.

Between Dec. 21 and Dec. 31, the local team members assisted families on Prospect Avenue, Eller Avenue, Dodge Street and Edison Avenue in Buffalo; Pyle Court in Tonawanda; Williamstown Court in Cheektowaga; Gates Avenue in Lackawanna; Margaret Road in Amherst; Pleasant Avenue in Hamburg; Pletcher Road in Youngstown; and Krull Parkway in Niagara Falls, Bonafede said.