Simple steps that can prevent a fire from spreading - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

Simple steps that can prevent a fire from spreading

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PHOENIX - Fire officials say the fire that tore through a Bronx building, killing at least 12 people, was started by a child playing with a stove. Among those killed were five children.

The fire was in an apartment building and with several apartment complexes popping up across the Phoenix area, local officials are weighing in.

"Every fire can be prevented," said Capt. Larry Subervi of the Phoenix Fire Department.

The Phoenix Fire Department says for most new apartment buildings and high rises, preventative measures like sprinkler systems are a must.

"They put fire coating, protective coating, on supporting members of the apartment complexes now so there's a spray of fire coating that goes over a lot of the metal pieces that prevents expansion and helps prevent spread," said Subervi.

Newer isn't always better, however.

"The older construction typically has larger wood members that will stay together a little bit longer and won't burn as quickly," Subervi explained.

In the case of the New York City fire, the family in the engulfed apartment fled immediately. Fire officials say had that family shut their apartment door on the way out, the fire may not have spread.

"As soon as you open the door you introduce oxygen into the environment, which makes the fire burn faster," Subervi said. "You can increase fire spread because now you've given the fire a pathway out."

That proved true earlier this week in Phoenix at a complex near 12th Street and Maryland Avenue. Inside a clubhouse where the fire started, the temperature climbed fast but the flames didn't flare up until fire crews opened the door.

"Firefighters got their lines to the front door and they don't open the doors until they're ready to go in," Subervi said.

The same theory applies if you're trapped inside. Officials say head to a room, near a window if possible, shut the door, and put a towel at the bottom of it.

"It's better that if there's an apartment with multiple people living there, that everybody goes to one room," said Subervi.

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