Groups help family of kids killed in fireSIOUX FALLS (AP) — Two groups are seeking donations to help the parents of three children killed in a weekend fire in Sioux Falls, while officials continue to investigate the cause of the blaze.
SIOUX FALLS (AP) — Two groups are seeking donations to help the parents of three children killed in a weekend fire in Sioux Falls, while officials continue to investigate the cause of the blaze.
A preliminary report could be released later this week, Sioux Falls Fire Marshal Dean Lanier told the Argus Leader.
The fire early Saturday killed Michael Hensley, 16; Savannah Coon, 12; and Alivia Coon, 6.
The children were in the house with their mother and stepfather when the fire was reported shortly before 8 a.m. The parents, Rhiannon and David White, escaped by leaping to the ground from a second-floor window.
Fire Chief Jim Sideras said the three children were found in an upstairs bedroom.
He said he did not know whether they were sleeping in the same room or gathered there when the fire started.
“We don’t know exactly yet the cause of death,” Sideras said. “We assume it is smoke inhalation.”
Lanier said investigators would have to go back to the site to check the structure, conduct more interviews with survivors and any witnesses and review video taken by cameras on police cruisers before a preliminary report is done.
Celebrate Community Church and Dakota Spirit, a cheerleading club, are taking donations to help with funeral costs for the children. Dakota Spirit set up an account at First Bank and Trust in Sioux Falls in memory of Alivia, who was a member of the Fire Crackers cheer squad.
Cheerleaders plan to honor Alivia and her family in late January by wearing specially made hair bows during a cheer competition at the Sioux Falls Convention Center, director Robin Fritsch said. The bows will be available to the public for a freewill donation, Fritsch said.
On Sunday night, about 70 people attended a candlelight vigil in front of the house. Rhiannon and David White spoke to the crowd, thanking them for their support. Rhiannon White said Sunday that the fire moved so fast that she did not have time to put another layer of clothes over her pajamas before jumping outside.
Sideras said firefighters went into the home when they arrived but had to evacuate moments later because of the size of the fire and the possibility that the structure could collapse.