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Five people die in apartment fire in Missouri

WHEATON, Mo. — Five people, including a 7-year-old child, died in a fire at an apartment building in southwest Missouri, authorities said.

Bob Lombard, chief of the Wheaton Fire Department, said the fire was reported about 3:20 a.m. Thursday. Fire crews arrived at the apartment within minutes and found the victims in two units of the building. The fire was fully involved when firefighters arrived,Lombard said.

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‘‘We lost five people,’’ Lombard said.

Two adults and the child were found in one apartment and two adults were found in another unit. The apartments were in one of two eight-unit buildings in the complex, he said.

The second building wasn’t affected, but residents were evacuated as a precaution, Lombard said.

The victims’ identities hadn’t been released, and the cause of the fire was under investigation, he said. Wheaton, about 70 miles southwest of Springfield, has about 700 residents.

The Red Cross of Southern Missouri said it was providing 16 people with emergency lodging, food, and clothing. It has opened five cases for financial assistance.

Red Cross spokesman Nigel Holderby told the Joplin Globe volunteers had helped place the families. ‘‘All 16 people are in hotels with monetary assistance in addition to food and clothing.’’ Holderby said. “Today, of all days, the community wrapped their arms around these families.’’

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