Children playing with fire cited at cause of tragic fire - KOTA Territory News

Children playing with fire cited at cause of tragic Rapid City fire

Posted: Updated: Feb 26, 2013 07:43 PM

Fire officials have determined that children playing with fire sparked a fatal west Rapid City building fire that ultimately claimed their lives, and the life of their grandmother.

The flames are long gone, but Ricky Eagle Bull and his young children still mourn for their neighbors, and the lives they lost in the fire.

"My little brother remembers his friend sometimes, we drive by now and then," said Eagle Bull, fire survivor and former tenant of the fire ravaged residential complex on 6th Avenue.

Tuesday, fire investigators confirmed what Eagle Bull and his neighbors suspected all along.

"It was determined the start of the fire was started by one of the fire victims, within the house. It was as a result of children playing with fire," said Tim Behlings, Assistant Chief with the Rapid City Fire Department. 

"Kids will be kids, it's just a tragic situation, it shouldn't have happened," said Eagle Bull.

Even with a response time of just six minutes, first responders were unable to stop the spread of the fire.

"These folks were awake, up and aware, but that just shows you that the fire progressed very rapidly. The cause of death was due to asphyxiation, smoke inhalation. They died while they were trying to escape the incident," said Behlings.

Fire Investigators and neighbors say there may have been a history of fire-setting within the family, and that wouldn't be uncommon.

"It's probably one of our worst problems in one of our communities. It's one of our number one fire causes outside during the summer - kids playing with fire, matches, fireworks," said Rapid City Fire Chief Mike Maltaverne. 

While Eagle Bull and his neighbors rebuild their homes and lives, the affects of the tragedy are constantly surfacing.

"I'm looking at new apartments and I think, 'I'm on the second or third floor, how am I supposed to get out?' That's a big thing now, to make sure we're all safe," said Eagle Bull.

Marcia Rock, 51, and siblings -Thomas Rosado, 9, Dustin Rosado, 5, and Marquez Hawk Wing, 3, perished in the fire.

The complex is being rebuilt, and will now include a residential fire sprinkler system.

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