Homeless advocates now homeless after Dewey Beach fire

Sprinklers confine blaze to one end of four-unit building
February 21, 2022

A couple active in helping the homeless community are now homeless themselves after a Feb. 19 fire in Dewey Beach displaced them.

“We are the homeless now, helping the homeless,” said Lou Hernandez, who runs Higher Ground Outreach, a nonprofit that helps homeless people living in tent cities across Sussex County. “I’m so humbled because here we are on the other side now. This can happen at any moment to anybody.”

Hernandez said he and his fiancée, April Moorhouse, had returned to their Bayard Avenue townhome rental after a day of helping the area’s homeless when April saw flames about 6:30 p.m. on the outside patio. Hernandez said he grabbed a pot of water to douse the flames, and it worked briefly until a gust of wind stoked the fire. “It was moving too fast. The wind was blowing hard,” Hernandez said. “I tried to put it out three times and then the door turned black from the flames. It popped inward and the flames were licking over my head.”

At that point, Hernandez said he and April only had enough time to grab their slippers and their little dog before heading outside. He said emergency responders arrived quickly; a residential sprinkler system confined the fire to the one unit, officials said. Firefighters from Rehoboth Beach, Lewes and Bethany Beach were on the scene for more than two hours fighting the blaze that caused  $75,000 in damage, officials said.

The Delaware State Fire Marshal is investigating to determine the origin and cause of the fire.

Hernandez said he has no idea how the fire started outside, but he is thankful they were still awake and got out safely. He is also thankful that April’s three children were not staying with them that weekend.

The couple are now staying in temporary housing, but they’re not sure what to do next.

“A lot of what we do with Higher Ground comes out of our own pockets,” he said. 

Higher Ground Outreach focuses on getting items to people living in tents, such as propane, heaters, conversion hoses, tarps, winter boots, flashlights, sleeping bags, blankets, rope, bus passes and bikes.

“We’re boots on the ground,” he said. “We provide them with all their needs.”

Staying optimistic, Hernandez joked that he might have to put up a tent in one of the tent cities where he helps.

“We were renting, but don’t have enough money right now for a security deposit,” he said.

A Gofundme account set up by Kathy Hughes has a goal of raising $3,000 for the couple. So far, the site at has raised $1,150.

For more information on Higher Ground Outreach, go to

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