SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- A church in north Springfield is a temporary home for at least 157 people displaced by a fire at an extended stay motel.
Emergency officials say the fire at the Welcome Inn Nightly and Extended Stay, located at the corner of Highway 65 and Interstate 44, displaced about 150 people. One person suffered minor injuries. The fire started around 11:15 p.m. Wednesday. Firefighters say there was heavy fire on the third floor and the roof when they arrived.
"We noticed that there was an extreme amount of fire," stated witness Oney Longley. "We started telling people to get out and helping people get out."
The building did have smoke detectors, which alerted the residents. The building also had a sprinkler system, but it's not clear if sprinklers were present throughout the entire building. As for a cause, the fire marshal is still investigating.
The American Red Cross is using Praise Assembly Church on North Glenstone as a shelter for the displaced. The CERT Animal Response Team set up a shelter for pets in another building on the church property. At last check, it was housing about a dozen animals, the majority being dogs.
One family says they are thankful for escaping the fire with their four small children. Zachary Simpson says only his wife was awake when the alarms started sounding. "Everybody was sleeping except her and she heard that sound," said Zachary Simpson. "She woke me up and she said we have to get out of here right away and that's what we did."
The Red Cross says they held a sheltering exercise at Praise Assembly less than a year ago, so they are thankful everyone knew how to get this shelter set up quickly in the middle of the night. I t's not clear how long the shelter will stay open. There are case workers working with families to figure out more permanent shelter.