Springfield is one of most dangerous cities for home fires

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Springfield is ranked in the top 100 most dangerous cities for house fires. According to the Hartford Home Fire Index, the city is ranked number 59 in the nation for highest home fire risk.

"Unfortunately, we were not very surprised at all. We would love to see Springfield not on this list at all," said Cara Erwin, Springfield Fire Department's fire and life safety educator.

The ranking is based on fire incident reports and a survey on fire safety and prevention behaviors. Springfield Fire Department says the most common cause of house fires in the city is from cooking.

"If people would just stay in the kitchen while they're cooking on the stove top, for example, we could reduce a large number of those fires," Erwin said.

If you do have a cooking fire, firefighters say you shouldn't try to put water on it or carry it to the sink. The best thing to do is slide a lid over it, turn off the heat, and get out of the house and wait for firefighters to arrive.

"I was burned when I was 4, so I've always been wanting to help people," said Jenny Solomon, an American Red Cross disaster program specialist.

The American Red Cross has responded to 26 fires in Greene County just this year.

"Our goal is to be there within an hour and we meet that a lot of times. Sometimes it takes a little bit longer," said Solomon.

Red Cross provides for immediate needs like food, clothing and shelter, then follows up with case work for usually about two to three weeks.

Fires are the most common disaster that American Red Cross volunteers see.

"I've always wanted to do it, and I want to give back to help people who are struggling through tragedies," said volunteer Darlene Wells.

They want to do more than just respond; they also want to help educate about prevention and preparedness. Working with the Springfield Fire Department, the Red Cross has installed nearly 600 smoke alarms in the area.

Fire safety experts say everyone should learn some important fire safety tips.

"One is have working smoke alarms in every bedroom and on every floor; the second is having a working fire extinguisher; and the third is having a plan. And it's not just about thinking about a plan, but actually practicing it," said Erwin.

"We want people to be prepared. Have a plan; test that plan," Solomon said.

To learn more about home fire safety and preparedness, visit the links on the right side of this story.