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10 Dead in Mo. Group Home Fire

November 27, 2006

ANDERSON, Mo. (AP) _ A fire gutted a group home for the mentally ill in southwest Missouri early Monday, killing 10 people and injuring 25, authorities said.

Firefighters brought the blaze at the Anderson Guest House under control just before daylight, but blackened cinderblock walls were all that remained standing.

The home had 33 residents and two employees. Nineteen people were taken to area hospitals and six were treated at the scene, Highway Patrol spokesman Kent Casey said.

He did not know the conditions of the injured, but said those treated at the scene were at another facility operated by the home’s owner, Joplin River of Life Ministries Inc.

Some of those hospitalized were treated for smoke inhalation and released, state Fire Marshal Randy Cole said.

The cause was under investigation, and names of the victims had not been released.

A woman who answered the phone at Joplin River of Life Ministries on Monday morning said it was not releasing any information and hung up the phone.

Inspectors from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, which licenses the facility, found some deficiencies at the home in March but none related to fire safety, agency spokeswoman Nanci Gonder said.

``This is a devastating situation and we express our sympathy to the families of those who were killed or injured in the fire,″ Gonder said in a news release.

The facility also has a license from the Missouri Department of Mental Health, which did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

(SUBS lead to correct home is for mentally ill sted mentally disabled; ADDS color from scene, other details. ADDS byline.)

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