WHEATON, Mo. - Fire investigators are still on scene after a massive blaze destroyed an apartment complex and killed five people in Wheaton this morning.
Wheaton Police Chief Clint Clark said the fire broke out at the Blue Ridge Apartments in the 500 block of South Hill Street, near Holmes and Highway W.
Firefighters from Wheaton, Exeter, Butterfield, Monett and several other agencies responded to the blaze, providing manpower and additional tankers at the scene. Several worked to stop the fire from spreading to nearby structures.
The American Red Cross, a fire marshal and Barry County Sheriff all arrived on scene in the early morning hours.
The Blue Ridge Apartments have eight units that are now a complete loss. Investigators say at this point they are fairly certain the fire started in an upstairs apartment, but nothing is official at this time.
Five people are confirmed dead. Officials have not released their names yet, but a relative said three of the dead were a mother and her young son, as well as her boyfriend.
City officials have opened the new Wheaton Community Center to provide emergency services. Many community members rallied to the aid of those who needed immediate assistance.
The Red Cross Southern Missouri Region in a press release stated they have five volunteers on the ground there giving emergency lodging, food and clothing to 16 people. Five cases of financial assistance have been opened as well.
Rock Solid Baptist Church in Wheaton has donated $1,000 to relief efforts, according to the Red Cross. Anyone wishing to donate can visit www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS.