Early morning fire, faulty smoke detector leaves 8 in critical c - KMOV.com

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Early morning fire, faulty smoke detector leaves 8 in critical condition

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Firefighters in the 4600 block of Evans following a Tuesday morning fire (Credit: KMOV) Firefighters in the 4600 block of Evans following a Tuesday morning fire (Credit: KMOV)

ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – Eight people remain in the hospital following a fire in north St. Louis overnight, all of whom are in critical condition.

Five of those hospitalized are children.

It took firefighters just four minutes to get to the two-story duplex in the 4600 block of Evans Avenue after the fire started around 2 a.m. Tuesday, but the people inside were trapped in a back bedroom.

While the firefighters worked to free them, smoke filled the air.

“The smoke is deadly and it moves faster than fire,” said St. Louis Fire Captain Garon Mosby. “It’s going to get you nine times out of ten, not the fire itself.”

The National Fire Protection Association says the majority of  fire deaths are not caused by burns, but rather smoke inhalation, which is what all eight residents in the hospital are being treated for.

That’s why early detection is so crucial.

“With smoke detectors, you get that extra time, those extra minutes to get out of the building,” said Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson.

Extra time the eight victims weren’t afforded, because the smoke detector in the home wasn’t working.

“It just aggravates me. We work so hard on it. Let's get in there, and get them installed. We do it for free any time,” he said.

Jenkerson says his firefighters will install smoke detectors in any home or apartment in the city. All a person has to do is ask.

While a landlord is responsible for providing a working smoke detector it's up to the tenant to maintain it. In this case, the batteries had been removed from the home’s only smoke detector, rendering it useless.

“We really are hoping and pulling for these kids and adults to make it through this, but, it just goes back to reiterating our message that working smoke alarms save lives,” said Mosby. “There was a smoke alarm in this home, but it doesn’t appear at this time that it was working and you’ve got individuals that were trapped by smoke that perhaps had that been working would’ve been able to get out.”

Mosby said the children range in age from 10 months to 5 years. Investigators claim a child playing with a lighter is the preliminary cause of the blaze.

Hours after the fire, the St. Louis Fire Department said there were 11 people hospitalized as a result of the fire. It is unknown if the additional four people were members of the family that was trapped or if they were living on the other side of the duplex. They also said investigators claim a child playing with a lighter is the preliminary cause of the blaze. 

According to Mosby, the home only had one smoke alarm, which did not have a battery in it.

“We really are hoping and pulling for these kids and adults to make it through this, but, it just goes back to reiterating our message that working smoke alarms same lives,” said Mosby. “There was a smoke alarm in this home, but it doesn’t appear at this time that it was working and you’ve got seven individuals that were trapped by smoke that perhaps had that been working would’ve been able to get out.”

Mosby said the children range in age from 10 months to 5 years.

According to officials, 14 people were inside the building at the time of the fire. Eight of the injured people were taken to the hospital in critical condition.

All of the family members were taken to the hospital in critical condition.

Click here for the gofundme page created to help the family.

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