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Family trying to recover after 2 crimes hit their apartment

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LAWTON, Okla_A Lawton woman and her family are struggling to recover after their apartment was first burglarized then destroyed in a fire in the same week. Katima Browders said someone broke into her unit at the Apple Run Apartments near 24th and Northwest Williams the Friday before last and stole most of her family's furniture. Three days later, someone intentionally started a fire outside her apartment door. The smoke from the fire ruined the last of what she and her four children owned.

They have been moved to another apartment in the same complex but it's basically empty. Browders said she and her four children, whose ages range from seven to three, have to sleep on the floor. She did receive some financial help from the Red Cross, but she said those resources have run out. She said she doesn't know where to turn and is looking for answers.

"I don't really talk to anybody. I don't have any problems with anybody so who would want to do this to me and my babies. We could have been at home, I could have lost my life, and my babies could have lost their life."

She said the chain of events is more than she and her family can bear. The week that her apartment had been burglarized, Browders had been staying with a friend. When she received a text from her aunt that her apartment was on fire, she said she felt like she had been hit by lightning twice.

"It made me a little uneasy because with the little money that I did have I went and tried to replace what I had lost and to lose it all over again. It's like, I can't win for losing."

Browders said after the money from Red Cross ran out, she tried to get help from other agencies to get some furniture, but she was told their resources had run out.

"I am trying but I don't know, what else I need to do, who else I need to call. I really don't know what to do, I really don't."

Salvation Army Captain Ernie Hull said although resources have been tight for agencies like his, there is some help available.

"We can help her with what we can and we can try to make some contacts for her so that she is not calling around. We know some of the resources in the community that she might not and we can make the contacts from here and refer her to agencies we partner with."

As for the investigation into the fire, the fire marshal's office said it is still too early to determine who started the fire, or whether or not it's related to the burglary. Captain Hull said agencies are always tight on resources this time of year, especially when it comes to furniture.

"When we have fires particularly, we're bound by what ever I have in the thrift store. One of the things I very seldom have is beds. We do try to give them a sofa, bed some other items for the house. We don't refurnish the house by any stretch of the imagination but we try to give them a good start"

Hull said if you have furniture to donate, you can call their office at 580-355-1802. They will come to you and pick up the furniture.

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