Weather Forecast


Donations being accepted to help fire victims

The Brainerd lakes community has been asking what they can do to help the families whose homes were lost Thursday when the Hillcrest Apartment building in south Brainerd was destroyed by fire.

The Brainerd Lakes Salvation Army is accepting donations at its main office and Kris and Dave Peterson, owners of the apartment building with Diversified Property Rentals, organized another donation drive through Bridges of Hope.

Kris Peterson, who has never had a rental property lost to fire before, is working with Bridges of Hope to set up a donation site for the public to donate items or money to the families. Peterson said there were 12 units that were destroyed that housed 21 adults and three children who were affected by the fire in the apartment located at 315 Hillcrest Drive in south Brainerd.

Peterson said people may donate clothing and household items and drop them off at the Brainerd Family YMCA during its regular business hours of 5:30 a.m. to 9:45 p.m. Monday through Friday; 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

“Bridges of Hope has reached out and connected with the individuals and families affected by the fire,” Peterson said in an email. “We will work with them and coordinate an effort involving multiple agencies to see that their needs are met.”

To make a donation to those affected by the Hillcrest fire and other families facing similar situations, interested persons may direct offerings to Bridges of Hope, PO Box 742, Brainerd, MN 56401; or an online donation at; or by following the QR code.

“To have a fire of this magnitude is surreal,” said Peterson. “A few tenants have been here today (Friday) to see if they can gather some items, but they all can’t get in because they are investigating the fire.

“I’ve been trying to help the tenants and I’m looking at our other rental properties to see if any of them will work for these families.”

Donations also may be dropped off at the Salvation Army’s main office at 208 South Fifth Street from 8 a.m. to noon and from 1-4 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Debbie Lick, Salvation Army family services director, said they’ll collect new and gently used household and personal hygiene items, such as blankets, towels, shampoo, conditioner and soap. Lick said people also may donate money or a gift card, such as to a grocery store, that would be helpful to the families.

“As things progress we will know more of the exact need of what the families will need,” said Lick. “Clothing is really hard to donate to families, but we can provide vouchers to families at our Thrift Store.”

Lick said there is an 13-month-old child also so people may donate items that would be helpful to that age group.

Lick said for more information on what to donate people may call the Salvation Army. People also can mail donations to the Salvation Army at 208 South Fifth St., Brainerd MN 56401.

The Salvation Army and the American Red Cross are providing temporary shelter for the families. The American Red Cross assisted the families with a week’s worth of food, clothing and credit cards to spend on their immediate needs, said Terry Sluss, lead supervisor for disaster assistance for the American Red Cross in the Brainerd region.

Sluss said the American Red Cross also will assist families with mental health services and health care nurses are available to help families with prescriptions they lost in the fire.

Sluss said last year he responded to 10 fires that were at residential home, so he helped one family at a time. He said the Hillcrest fire is one of the largest fire’s he’s seen where he had to help more than 18 people.

“This is one of the largest fires I’ve seen since the tornado and wild fire that occurred in Brainerd years ago,” said Sluss.

Sluss said the response time from the firefighting agencies was excellent in helping so many families.

JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at or 855-5851. Follow me on Twitter at