Investigators can't find cause of fatal fireFriday fire led to the death of Jaxon Sehnert, 3, and the hospitalization of his brother, Jacob Sehnert, 6.
By: Tom Lawrence, The Daily Republic
The cause of the fire that killed a 3-year-old Mitchell boy remains undetermined.
Mitchell Fire Marshal Marius Laursen said while the fire appears to have started in the area of the washer and dryer room at the back of the house at 222 W. Sixth Ave., the exact cause is unknown.
It filled the house with thick, acrid smoke, which led to the death of Jaxon Sehnert, 3, and the hospitalization of his brother, Jacob Sehnert, 6. Both suffered from smoke inhalation.
The boys’ mother, Jessica Sehnert, and two bystanders who tried to rescue the boys were also treated for smoke inhalation. The fire itself caused relatively little damage to the house, according to Mitchell firefighters.
The Mitchell Fire Division, Mitchell Police Division and the South Dakota Fire Marshal’s Office investigated the fire. While they determined the fire started near the washer and dryer, they couldn’t figure out what sparked it, Laursen said.
“We’ve concluded the investigation,” he said Tuesday morning.
Laursen said they are charged with ensuring there was no arson or criminal causes to the fire. Once that’s determined, the rest of the investigation is the business of the insurance company and the homeowner.
Shortly after the fire, Laursen said there were no smoke detectors in the house, a point that a Sehnert family member has disputed.
“I walked through the house and I didn’t see one,” Laursen said. “The house is boarded up. I don’t have any ability to go back in there and determine that.”
Laursen said he is working with some firms to hold a large-scale smoke detector giveaway soon.
“The important thing is we don’t want anyone else to die,” he said.