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For Immediate Release: While still under investigation, Springfield fire marshals say this morning's fire on the 800 block of south Missouri appears to be accidental. It started in the upstairs apartment of a 3-unit apartment home. The occupants of the lower apartments were able to safely escape the fire, thanks to working smoke alarms.
In June, Springfield firefighters were in the area as a part of the Department's Project RED Zone program. During their safety canvass, they visited the apartment home where Thursday's fire occurred to ensure that it had working smoke alarms. During their visit, they found no working smoke alarms in the unit where investigators believe the fire started. Firefighters installed one new alarm and replaced the dead battery in another alarm. The very smoke alarms firefighters installed that day were the same ones that notified the occupants that there was a fire, allowing them to escape without injury.
"This is a great example of why Project RED Zone is so important," said Fire Chief David Pennington. "As a result of the program, we have already visited nearly 5,000 homes to make sure the occupants have working smoke alarms. This morning's fire was devastating for those involved, but could have been so much worse without the assurance of working smoke alarms."
Project RED Zone is a program to ensure every home in Springfield knows how to prevent, prepare for and properly respond to a house fire. Project RED Zone - which stands for Reduce, Educate, Deliver - is a reference to the red areas on the Springfield Fire Department's map of fire incidents. The red indicates the areas where fires occur the most frequently. In April, fire crews began canvassing these areas to ensure homes have working smoke alarms. Those that don't receive new batteries or alarms, free of charge.
Firefighters started the campaign in Westside neighborhood - where the home in this morning's fire is located. The Department continues to canvass area neighborhoods each week and are now close to completing their third neighborhood. So far, as a part of the program, firefighters have tested nearly 2,000 alarms and installed nearly 250 batteries and 900 new smoke alarms.
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For more information, contact the Springfield Fire Department media line at 874-2301.