CLINTON, Mo. — Officials have now identified the 4-year-old girl, her mother and a man who all died in an apartment fire early Tuesday morning. Firefighters say all of the victims should have escaped the flames.
“If they had working smoke detectors the outcome would have been different,” assistant fire chief Mark Manuel said.
Neighbors started calling 911 just after 2 a.m., after seeing flames shooting out of the windows of a second floor apartment.
There’s extensive damage to the apartment building. Firefighters say flames had engulfed the upstairs unit when they pulled up.
Clinton had only three firefighters on duty overnight, so initially those three battled the blaze outside until a second alarm brought more firefighters to go inside.
Rescue crews found 27-year-old Taylor Briggs dead in the living room of the apartment. In a bedroom that was not burning, firefighters recovered the bodies of 45-year-old Ernest McConvile and 4-year-old Adriyana, the daughter of Briggs.
Firefighters say all of the deaths could easily have been prevented.
“It absolutely could have,” Manuel said. “When we arrived on scene we did not encounter any working smoke detectors. Once we forced entry into the apartment the hallway smoke detector in the apartment building managed to go off, but as far as inside the apartment itself, we did not hear any audible detectors sounding.”
The state fire marshal told Manuel the fire appears to be accidental. Investigators have not been able to rule out smoking or possibly an electrical problem in the building.
Firefighters say they did not find any space heaters in the unit. A neighbor who declined to comment on camera told FOX4 the woman liked to burn candles in her apartment.
Firefighters say hard-wired smoke detectors with battery backups are supposed to be in all the units. In this apartment, the alarm may have been disabled, and that can mean the difference between life and death.