Alarms disabled at southwest Missouri building where five died

Monday, December 10, 2012 | 8:09 a.m. CST; updated 1:04 p.m. CST, Monday, December 10, 2012

WHEATON — The company that manages a southwest Missouri apartment building where five people died in a Thanksgiving Day fire had disabled the manual fire alarms in the building about 10 years ago.

Rick Schroeder, president of Bell Management, of Joplin, which oversees Blue Ridge Apartments in Wheaton, said the five manual fire alarm pulls in the building haven't operated for 10 years.

Officials have said that the apartments each had working smoke detectors when the five people were killed in the early morning blaze. Four adults and an 8-year-old boy died in the fire.

Schroeder said the tenants were told the manual alarms didn't work. He also told The Springfield News-Leader that they were disabled because people kept pulling them in the middle of the night.

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