Non-profits join forces after fire at Dallas homeless shelter

A transformer fire near a Downtown Dallas homeless shelter on Saturday displaced everyone there on what has so far been the hottest day of the year.

The power at The Bridge has since been turned back on and people have been allowed to return.

The fire sparked on Corsicana Street, leaving the shelter without power. Dallas Fire-Rescue says the shelter itself was not damaged.

Ron Gray and his dog, Cujo, are among the 250 homeless people, and a dozen dogs, evacuated from shelter.

"Me and Cujo were the last ones there. We walked out. We were the last ones out of The Bridge walking out," he said.

No one was injured by the fire, but there were additional ambulances because of the heat. At least one person was treated for heat-related illness.

Almost immediately, organizations that support the homeless responded to the SOS call for help. The Stew Pot, which typically serves food, allowed people to seek shelter Saturday. Sunday, a daytime outreach center called OurCalling also offered itself up, even though it’s normally closed on Sunday.

OurCalling Executive Director Wayne Walker saw it as an opportunity to serve.

"We are not a shelter but we've opened our doors for folks to stay here as long as the city needs us to," he said. "A lot of people that are displaced and won't have a place to get out of this heat. A place to get a hot meal."

Volunteers came in, set up cots and got bedding together. The Stewpot made lunch and dinner. OurCalling agreed to stay open for as long as needed.

A city inspector had to come in and make sure everything is up to code, then The Bridge got the A/C going and cooled the place down. As of 7 o'clock Sunday, The Bridge was back open. Yet another organization, Union Gospel Mission, bused more than 200 people back.
"I would encourage residents in Dallas to consider the homeless during this heat, and volunteer and support those organizations that are doing the hard work every day," said Walker.