SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – An investigation into what caused a morning fire that killed two people and left another in critical condition is ongoing Thursday afternoon.
Just before 8 a.m. on Thursday, there were police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances, along with firefighters battling a blaze in the basement of a two-story home on W 1st St.
One of the victims from Thursday morning’s deadly fire shared his personal experience with KCAU 9 and said that he was in shock Thursday morning.
James Reed was one of the three people who was living on the ground floor of the two-story house and able to escape prior to the firemen arriving.
“I felt myself zonk out, in and out. Then my sister is pounding on the door saying ‘There is a fire James.’ I open my eyes and the whole place is up in black smoke. Within seconds, I was coughing my lungs out. I didn’t even grab no shoes. I just grabbed my coat and my dog and ran out. My sister and my mom were already headed out. We went back in there trying to open the other door but the smoke, we just couldn’t get in there. The smoke and the heat, it just wasn’t going,” said James Reed, fire victim.
Sioux City Fire Rescue said six people were inside the home when the fire started, but by the time firefighters had arrived on the scene only three had gotten out safely.
The other three, two men and one woman, were trapped in the basement had to be rescued by firefighters and all three were rushed to MercyOne Siouxland.
“Typically when one victim is found, our crews come out with that victim and go back and perform another search and that was when they located the second victim. After removing that victim, another crew went in to actually complete the search of the basement. They had not made it all the way through the basement and that’s when the third victim was found,” said Mark Aesoph, Sioux City Fire Marshal.
The first man that was removed from the basement is still at the hospital in critical condition. The other two people rescued have succumbed to their injuries.
Reed said that he had lived at the house for over four years and had gotten to know the downstairs tenants well.
The fire department said they were unable to find any smoke alarms and carbon dioxide detectors in the house, though the property passed inspection last year.
While the fire is still being investigated, authorities said the first stages of the investigation are complete.
“The preliminary investigation has been completed. We have narrowed it down to a point of origin, where there are possible ignition sources. There will be some different testing that goes on at this point and some more interviews before release. Before we feel confident in releasing a final cause for the fire,” said Aesoph.
Fire crews were able to extinguish the fire after battling heavy smoke and fire.
“It has been red-tagged, placard it is unsafe at this time by inspection services. As far as whether it will be rebuilt, I can’t determine,” said Aesoph.
The Red Cross is currently helping Reed and his family with a hotel room while they find somewhere else to live.
The fire department urging everyone to be sure and check their smoke detectors are working, as they do save lives.
At least once a year, Sioux City Fire Rescue offers free smoke detectors and installation.