A candle burning in a kitchen area is believed to have caused a house fire that killed a 40-year-old Yankton man early Wednesday morning.
The home was gutted by the accidental blaze, which was not believed to be related to the weather.
According to Yankton Assistant Fire Chief Larry Nickles, the fire was reported at approximately 12:40 a.m. in the 1500 block of Summit St., across the street from Yankton High School.
“The firefighters were on the scene fairly quickly to find the back half of the house was fully involved (in flames),” Nickles said.
“We were told there was one victim inside,” he added.
He said the victim was found soon after firefighters were able to enter the structure after knocking down some of the flames.
Two other individuals in the home escaped the building uninjured.
Nickles said the two people were in the home at the time of the fire, which was discovered by one of the occupants who then woke up the other occupant.
A third resident of the home was called at work, and he returned home and went into the building, where he perished. Nickles said it is not known why the man entered the building.
The identity of the victim has not been released.
The temperature at the time was hovering around 0, and while it didn’t impede the overall response, it did cause a few issues.
“When we tied in to the hydrant and went to turn it on, we broke it. We believe it was frozen down below,” he said. “We had to establish another water supply with a second engine (truck) to supply the first engine that was there. Then we had a few issues with the second hydrant with a little bit of icing up, but we made it work.”
He reiterated that those issues “did not mess up anything because we had tank water on the trucks and we had another tanker on the scene in case we needed it.”
Also, he said firefighters had issues with oxygen packs freezing up with spray-back from the water.
No firefighters were injured or sustained any issues due to the cold.
“The ladies fire auxiliary did bring the firefighters some coffee later into the evening,” Nickles said, “and that was pretty welcome.”
He said the structure is “completely gutted out” and a total loss. He noted that, when firefighters arrived, all the outside doors were open. “That just allowed the fire to take off. What wind we had swept it right through the house.”
Nickles added that the Red Cross is assisting the family.
The investigation of the incident was conducted by the Yankton Fire Department and the Yankton Police Department.
Also responding to the scene were Yankton County Emergency Management, the Yankton County Ambulance Department and the fire department auxiliary.
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