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Names Released In Deadly Apartment Fire

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There are new details on a fatal apartment fire in Sioux Falls on Tuesday morning.

The fire began in the downstairs living room of a split level apartment at 204 Williams Avenue.  According to Sioux Falls Fire Chief Jim Sideras, the fire spread rapidly.

Two men from Sioux Falls, ages 54 and 42, heard screams coming from the apartment and went to help.  29-year-old Sulmi Siomara Guerra-Sandovol was inside and began handing children to the men through the second floor window.  After Guerra-Sandovol had three of the children outside, the men tried to help her.  She refused and went back for a fourth child who was still in the apartment.  Guerra-Sandovol was unable to rescue the fourth child, two-year-old Eli Galicia. Neither escaped the apartment.

Guerra-Sandovol was babysitting her two children and two others.  She has three other elementary-school aged children who were at school during the fire.

The three other children were taken to a Sioux Falls hospital for smoke inhalation treatment. One of Guerra-Sandovol’s children, a two-year-old, is in stable condition.  The other child, a four-year-old, had to be transported to Minneapolis for further treatment.

The other child, a four-year-old, is in critical condition.

The fathers of the children are with them. Eli Galicia’s mother is in Mexico and plans are being made for her to come to the US.

Sioux Falls Fire Chief Jim Sideras says that when firefighters reached the apartment, flames were coming out of the windows. One firefighter had minor burns but did not seek treatment.

Paramedics helped evacuate the other units in the apartment.

The apartment was built between 1983 and 1985.  They did not have a sprinkler system however did have smoke alarms in every unit.

Sideras called Guerra-Sandovol a hero for rescuing the children.

Due to the extensive damage, it may never be known what caused the fire.

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