Deadly Mitchell fire likely caused by kids left alone playing with cigarette lighter; six-year-old died

MITCHELL, S.D. (KELO) — A deadly fire this week in Mitchell appears to be caused by children left alone playing with a cigarette lighter, according to the city’s Department of Public Safety.

A six-year-old girl died. Two other children ages four and seven were rescued by a neighbor and friend. KELOLAND News spoke to them on Thursday. Officials say the three children were left at home for an hour before the fire began.

The men were not able to rescue the third child due to the heat and smoke caused by the fire, officials said.

“Ran in to do what we could do and got two of the kids, but couldn’t find the other one. Grabbed a ladder and went out back and crawled up it and tried to get through the window. Went around to the other windows; broke them open trying to get to the girl. Too much smoke. Couldn’t breathe; couldn’t see,” neighbor Steven Dirkes said on Thursday.

Officers also tried to rescue the girl, but weren’t able to.

Authorities say the two children were placed into protective custody and charges could be brought against the person who left the children alone inside of the house.

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