Children killed in Sioux Falls fire ID’dMichael Hensely, 16, Savannah Coon, 12, and Olivia Coon, 6, died in the Saturday morning blaze.
SIOUX FALLS (AP) — Authorities have released the names of three children killed in a weekend fire that tore through a home in Sioux Falls.
Michael Hensely, 16, Savannah Coon, 12, and Olivia Coon, 6, died in the Saturday morning blaze, said Sioux Falls police Sgt. Loren McManus. They were found in a single room on the second story of the frame house on North Main Avenue near Tower Park, he said.
Two adults escaped out of a second-story window and were taken by ambulance to a Sioux Falls hospital with injuries.
When crews arrived, flames were shooting from nearly every westside window on both floors.
“It was shooting up past the trees,” Aaron Knoll, a neighbor who lives several blocks away, told the Argus Leader.
Firefighters tried to enter the home but were forced back by the heat.
Sioux Falls Fire Rescue Chief Jim Sideras said it’s not clear whether the children who died had been in the same room and were overcome by smoke, or whether they had been in separate rooms and then gathered.
“It’s too hard to speculate,” he said.
Firefighters could not search for the victims until they got control of the flames.
“When our crews enter this, they come expecting to be very aggressive. We teach them to be aggressive,” Sideras said. “When they are already behind the power curve with the amount of heat and fire they face, it is very frustrating.”
He said the fire left the home badly burned and its structure weak, which brought challenges to the investigation.
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is working with the fire marshal to determine the cause of the blaze.
Richard Hutchinson, assistant principal at Patrick Henry Middle School, where Savannah Coon attended, said counseling will be available to students.
“We have a crisis team that will be ready for kids when they come back after the break,” Hutchinson said. “Protocol always is taking care of the emotional needs of the kids.”