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Investigation Closes On Fatal Fire In SF

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Officials have wrapped up their investigation of a fatal house fire in Sioux Falls that killed three children just days before Christmas.

Investigators from Sioux Falls Fire Rescue say there's not enough evidence to pinpoint a specific cause, and have labeled the case as undetermined.  

Emergency crews were on the scene three minutes after the first call to 911. The home built 113 years ago was already up in flames; flames so intense three children were trapped and killed on the top floor.

The fire started on the northwestern side of the home, in the living room. Officials know a lamp, table, and couch were in the corner, but the fire burned for so long officials say finding proof to pinpoint the how the fire ignited was impossible. 

Fire Marshal Dean Lanier said, “We found this area to be the origin of the fire however due to the lack of evidence we could uncover while we were there, we are going to have to list the fire as undetermined as to a cause.”

Police say the mother of the three children did have drugs in her system the morning of the fire, but police believe there will be no arrests made in relation to this fire.

Officer Sam Clemens of the Sioux Falls Police Department said, “No evidence of drugs or paraphernalia were found in the house.” 

While exactly what happened may never be known, investigators were able to rule out drugs and other potential causes.


Lanier said, ”They could find no principle cause, electrical cause, for the cause of the fire.”

But investigators can't come to a conclusion only by eliminating other possibilities.

Lanier said, “It's not a true scientific method to just invent a cause.”

The investigation is now closed, leaving behind a mystery with questions still unanswered. And with three children dead, fire investigators wish they could say more.  

Lanier said, “I would love to be able to tell you we had the exact cause and origin, that we could tell you exactly what caused it, but these types of fire investigations do come out undetermined from time to time.”

It's still unclear if the smoke detectors in the home were working at the time of fire, but an earlier report in 2012 stated that the home did have them.

The investigation would only re-open if new evidence was found.

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