Technology averts fire disaster

Technology averts fire disaster
By: Holly Brantley

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. - You can hardly see a hint of damage from the outside of 117 South Broadway in Poplar Bluff. But, there's plenty of damage inside. Sunday night a fire ripped through a storage area on the second floor.
The half dozen people who live there got out safely, but investigators say the fire could have moved quickly through the entire block and beyond.
"When you have a building that big, it can easily jump across the street and put the next block on fire," said Fire Scene Investigator Gary Pride.
Investigators say fighting the blaze would have been a nightmare, if it weren't for the department's two thermal imaging cameras. The cameras, triggered by heat, can detect everything from a human body to flames.
"It shows everything in black and white," said Pride. "They are able to see in the dark."
Pride said the cameras allowed firefighters to see through wood, brick, and concrete. So, they were able to punch through walls to get to the heart of the fire.
"We had to have two things at work here," said Pride. "We needed firefighters with skills and initiative. We also needed the equipment to fight these types of fires. In Poplar Bluff, we are blessed with both."
Nearby business owners feel quick firefighters saved them from disaster.
"They did a great job," said Kathy Glandt. She and her husband, Bob operate a nearby restaurant.
"We've got a lot invested here," Bob Glandt said.
Pride also credits working smoke detectors with saving the lives of those living in the building. He advises checking yours right away.
No word yet on how the fire started. It remains under investigation.