MITCHELL, S.D. — A 6-year-old girl was found dead in a Mitchell residence early Thursday morning, April 23, after a fire was extinguished.
The fire was called in at about midnight, and Mitchell Fire Marshal Shannon Sandoval said flames were coming out of a window of 515 N. Wisconsin St. when firefighters arrived at the scene.
Sandoval said the girl and two younger children were the only people in the house when the fire started. Steven Dirkes saw the fire from his home across the street and ran into the burning house, saving the two younger children.
"It went from zero to 10 in under two minutes," Dirkes said.
The two children who were pulled from the burning house were on the ground floor and the stairs, and Dirkes said the fire grew too quickly for him to get to the 6-year-old, who was in an upstairs bedroom, though he tried to use a ladder to do so.
The deceased girl's name has not been released, and the cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Sandoval said interviews have been conducted with those who witnessed the fire, and the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and a K-9 unit were at the scene conducting an investigation on Thursday morning. The South Dakota State Fire Marshal's Office and Mitchell police and fire divisions are also investigating the fire, which caused significant damage from the home.
"That's pretty typical when there's a fatality. We call everybody in to get as many eyes on it as possible," Sandoval said.
Boyd and Destiny Reimnitz, of Mid-Dakota Properties, which owns the house, said they were at the scene until shortly after 2 a.m. Thursday, when the fire had been put out. The house has been deemed a total loss and will be boarded up until the city grants a permit for its demolition.
Boyd Reimnitz said investigators turned the property back over to him late Thursday morning. While he hasn't been told what caused the fire, he said the fact that it was turned back over indicates the fire wasn't caused by anything for which he would be responsible for as a landlord, such as electrical wiring, smoke detectors or large appliances.
The three children and a woman were living in the house since September, and Reimnitz said there had regularly been problems there.
Mitchell Chief of Public Safety Glen Still said Thursday that more information will likely be released Friday.