Tenant alerts firemen to blaze

Wednesday, March 20, 2002

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- A tenant who smelled smoke called 911 and alerted Poplar Bluff firefighters to a fire at a four-unit apartment building Tuesday, said Gary Pride, Poplar Bluff fire investigator.

Police officers were on the scene in seconds and awakened people in one of the units, Pride said.

Sixteen city firefighters from three stations responded to the fire at about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday and fought it for two hours.

"The entire lower floor on the south side of the apartment was on fire and traveling up the wall when the first unit arrived," said Randy Hastings, fire chief. "The fire traveled up the wall to the second story and into the attic."

Using a thermal imaging camera, firefighters detected flames inside a wall on the second story and extinguished that fire. There were no injuries. Structure loss was estimated at $20,000, with most of the damage in the south two apartments, fire officials said.

Pride said he was treating the cause of the fire as a criminal investigation.

"People in the apartment building were asleep when the fire broke out," he said. "Three of the apartments were rented, one was under renovation." Pride said the fire started in the bedroom of the lower apartment and that no one was at home Monday night in that apartment.

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