Fire District Says Safety Compromised in Republic, MO Fire

(Republic, MO) -- Despite no major injuries from a massive weekend apartment fire, an Ozarks fire district is frustrated.

The fire displaced eight families at the Republic Palms apartment complex in Republic.

On Monday, many got their first look at what little they have left, walking to the back of their burned apartment.

Patrick Nephew and Katelyn Presto got a glimpse at the steps they almost never made it down.

"You couldn't see," says Nephew. "I ran down the back of the steps and made it three quarters of the way down the steps and I had to run back up the other way because I almost got hit with debris falling."

Firefighters fought fierce flames for half an hour Sunday night, including crews from four departments -- excluding one of the closest ones.

"We had 21 certified firefighters available last night to respond to that fire," says Brookline Fire Chief Larry McConnell.

Brookline Fire Protection District Station One sits about a mile away from the Republic Palms apartments.

Chief McConnell says he has no idea why Republic called Springfield and Battlefield for mutual aid before Brookline.

"We're frustrated that a department would put lives and a department at jeopardy over something that we have no idea what it's over," says McConnell.

Republic Fire Chief Duane Compton says his crew is more familiar with other fire departments because they train with them regularly.

Compton also questions Brookline's response times, which he thinks may be similar to farther stations.

It's a feud McConnell wants to put behind the stations so the two departments can focus on the important things: the protection of people and property.

The two departments remain tied up in a lengthy legal battle over boundaries.

Both chiefs cite lack of communication between departments.

As for the fire victims, some were allowed back into their apartments to try to salvage just a few things.

Nephew and Presto were able to find the urns of their two cremated unborn twins.

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