Fire department reminds residents of free smoke detectors after deadly fire

POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KAIT) – After two teens die in a weekend fire, fire investigators are now learning the home didn't have a working smoke detector.

According to Poplar Bluff Fire Chief Ralph Stucker, the fire started in a room next to the room they were sleeping in.

He says two adults and the girl were likely able to survive because they were sleeping in the other side of the house and had time to get out.

When the fire department arrived, there were flames showing on the front, east and north sides of the house. Stucker says he believes the cause is accidental and does not appear to be suspicious.

Chief Stucker says smoke detectors are a cheap form of life insurance. He says his fire department will hand out smoke detectors free of charge.

"After an event like this where someone has been injured there will be an increase but we will probably donate out a hundred or so a year."

The weekend fire that claimed the lives of two Poplar Bluff teens occurred in a house that apparently had no or non-working smoke detectors.

Stucker, "The fire started in the back of the house close to where the boys bedrooms were at. It appears the boys tried to escape but were over come by the smoke."

The Poplar Bluff Fire Department gives away a couple of hundred smoke detectors a year. Stucker says the process is quite simple. The detectors are at the main station at 300 South Broadway.

"We have a form for them to fill out basically saying we're donating them a smoke detector and they are responsible to maintain the batteries and change them twice a year."

They come with a battery already installed.

Stucker, "If a person has trouble putting one up or not sure they can, we will send a truck out to help them do that."

Stucker says after a fire, especially where someone was hurt or killed the requests go up. Already 8 detectors had gone out by the time we visited and several people were lined up to receive a detector. Laroy Elsworth lives close to the recent fire and knew the family. He was getting a detector for his new home.

"Case mine catches fire. I can get a warning before it actually happens."

Like many, Elsworth didn't have any smoke detectors, but his friends deaths have brought the need close to home.

Elsworth, "Never really bothered me until now. When you lose a good friend."

Chief Stucker recommends a smoke detector in or just outside each bedroom and at least one on every level. Also he says, change out your batteries every time the clocks change.

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