Neighbors suspect code violations caused fatal house fire - KOTA Territory News

Neighbors suspect code violations caused fatal house fire

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Of the 21 people who lived at 2114 6th avenue, only 17 got out alive after a house fire broke out late Tuesday evening around 10:30 PM. 

"Something made me stop and go, this is unusual," said Stephen Matthias, who lived in a studio apartment in the building.
 
Matthias remembers that feeling quickly dissolving into panic when he heard his neighbors scream.
 
"I heard her saying 'go go, get out,  get out'. Then I heard a fire alarm somewhere," said Matthias.
 
Matthias fled his apartment, and gathered with his neighbors on the street to watch the blaze consume their home.
 
The fire began between 10:30 and 11pm Tuesday night, in what appears to have been at one time a single family home on Rapid City's 6th avenue. Neighbors say the home was divided into five units.
 
"They brought the 3 children out first. Then the lady was last. People were upset and really surprised. No one knew anyone was in that apartment. We thought everyone got out ok," said Matthias.
 
"By the time I got outside, the entrance was boiling with flames," said Larry Wright, a neighbor.
 
Wright who is a contractor says he complained to the city multiple times about the building's upkeep.
 
"I helped move some furniture in for some people downstairs and the mechanical room, had wiring and no covering, open holes, and there were kids around. Its a dangerous place. Tragedy waiting to happen," said Wright.
 
Matthias says he's angry, but thankful to be alive. But he hasn't escaped the fire without regret.
 
"We might've been able to get to those people out of there if we went through the back. But nobody thought they were still in there," said Matthias.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation by Rapid City Fire and Police investigators.

The other people left homeless by the fire are being assisted by the black hills chapter of the American red cross.

Fire officials say they typically see less than one fire fatality per year and the last Rapid City fire with multiple fatalities was more than two years ago.

 

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