‘Marine network’ steps up to help Warner Robins fire victims

WARNER ROBINS -- Spc. Robert Fioramonti, an Army combat medic in the Georgia National Guard, said he lost everything in a fire that started when lightning struck his unit at Sandpiper Apartments.

Except the U.S. Army flag hanging on his wall.

“Everything burned above it, and everything below it burned,” Fioramonti said. “The flag never got touched.”

If a fire could be all-American, Tuesday’s could be the archetype. Fioramonti joined three U.S. Marines stationed at Robins Air Force Base in emptying the building. A military flag survived. And offers to aid the residents have come from the Warner Robins base and Marines in Atlanta.

“Marines help Marines,” said John Harmon, commandant of the Central Georgia Marine Corps League Detachment at Robins, explaining Fioramonti’s part of the family.

Harmon said he has a volunteer who has furniture and other large donations available and e-mailed Robins personnel Thursday for any other available aid.

Maj. Gen. John Croley, a former Robins Air Force Base-stationed Marine who is now stationed in Atlanta, said he will “activate the Marine network” to help the residents.

“I was very taken emotionally that our Marines jumped out there,” Croley said.

As soon as Fioramonti and Marines Dan DeMuro, Travis Romig and Cory Flowers realized their 16-unit apartment building was on fire, the four began knocking on and kicking down doors to get fellow residents outside. A bed-bound 87-year-old woman had to be carried out.

“It was a good trade,” Fioramonti said. “We didn’t get anything out, but we got everyone out.”

Fioramonti said all of the units were two bedrooms, meaning most included families that are now looking for places to live and living necessities.

Sandpiper Apartments had only two available units, he said. The American Red Cross has offered six days of housing at a local hotel or $400.

“For those that had renter’s insurance, they may be OK,” Fioramonti said. “But for folks like us (he and his fiancee) who don’t have renter’s insurance,” it’s harder to know what to do now.

To contact writer Christina M. Wright, call 256-9685.