India (MNN) — In a rural Christian community in Andhra Pradesh, believers watched helplessly as flames consumed everything they owned.
"The houses are pretty close together, and so as the flames leapt up from these thatched roofs, they would just jump to the next roof over," explains Donna Glass with India Partners.
"It's like a wildfire spreading in the forest. When the fires get up to the tops of the trees, they just do these crown jumps."
A fire that started in two of the thatched homes quickly spread; within an hour, 55 homes were burned to the ground. Three older women and two infants were among those who lost their lives to the fire.
"It's heartbreaking," says Glass. "I cannot imagine what the families–especially losing their children or losing their mothers and grandmothers–are going through.
"The intensity of the heat from the fires [was] so high that they couldn't even go in and salvage anything. Those who did not have the ability to move quickly: people couldn't even go back in and rescue them."
Some families' livelihoods were lost as well. Five goats, twelve sheep, three water buffaloes, five sewing machines and nine bicycles were all reduced to mere ashes. The sewing machines had been given to the graduates of a tailoring school supported by India Partners. Click here to see how the tailoring program gives new life to women in India.
Glass says food is the immediate need for survivors of this disaster, but it doesn't stop there.
"They're lacking clothes; they're lacking blankets to sleep on," explains Glass. "Not only do they not have shelter over their heads, but they don't have anything to cook with or cook in."
India Partners is sending kits to survivors to help meet some of these needs: rice, cooking oil, vegetables, a couple of blankets, children's clothing, towels, buckets for carrying water, cooking vessels, and mats to sleep on.
"It sounds like a lot," Glass says, "but the prices in India make sure that you can provide all of this for a family for $80."
Click here to help and select "Fire Relief" from the drop-down list beneath "Program Area."
Pray for the families who experienced loss. Pray "that they will know God's peace; that their faith is not shaken, but they remain strong." Ask the Lord to encourage affected believers so they do not lose hope.
Share this story with your friends on Facebook to help rebuild the Body of Christ in Andhra Pradesh.
Moving forward with our Plight of Women series, we'll take a look tomorrow at how thousands of women find themselves in the claws of traffickers and what one group is doing to save them.