5 people die in apartment fire in SW Missouri

November 23, 2012 - 9:33 AM

WHEATON, Mo. (AP) — Five people including a 7-year-old child died after a fire broke out at an apartment building in southwest Missouri, authorities said.

Bob Lombard, chief of the Wheaton Fire Department, told The Associated Press the fire was reported about 3:20 a.m. Thursday. Fire crews arrived at the apartment within minutes of getting the call and found the victims in two separate units at the building. The fire was fully involved when firefighters arrived from the fire station located a few blocks away, Lombard said.

"We lost five people," Lombard said. Two adults and the child were found in one apartment and the two other adults were found in a nearby apartment in the building, which is one of two eight-unit buildings in the apartment complex, he said.

The second building wasn't affected, but residents were evacuated as a precaution, Lombard said.

The victims' identities hadn't been released, and the cause of the fire was under investigation, he said.

Wheaton is located about 70 miles southwest of Springfield and has about 700 residents.

The Red Cross of Southern Missouri said it was providing 16 people with emergency lodging, food and clothing. It has opened five cases for financial assistance.

Red Cross spokesman Nigel Holderby told the Joplin Globe that volunteers had helped place the families.

"We had volunteers on the scene this morning to find a place for each of them," Holderby said. "All 16 people are in hotels with monetary assistance in addition to food and clothing. Today, of all days, the community wrapped their arms around these families."

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Information from: Springfield News-Leader, http://www.news-leader.com