Overnight Fire in St. Charles Leaves South Dakota Man Dead

Posted at: 12/07/2012 8:20 PM
Updated at: 12/07/2012 8:24 PM
By: Brittany Lewis

(ABC 6 News) -- A South Dakota man is dead after an overnight fire in St. Charles. The fire happened just before 11 p.m. Thursday night. Four guests and two residents were at the motel, but one couldn’t make it out.

Firefighters were able to contain it to the rear portion of the building and put it out fairly quickly. The fire was already heavy, when close to 30 firefighters arrived.

"It was already coming through the roof out the windows, so it had ventilated on its own,” said Lyle Peterson, Fire Chief of St. Charles Fire Department.
"We attacked the fire and that we had to and that time we also found that we had a deceased male,” added Assistant Fire Chief Keith Zanto.

The victim is identified as 47-year-old Vincent Wright of Avon, South Dakota. St. Charles Police say he checked in around 6 p.m. Thursday night and was the only one in the room. Three other guests were checked in, but they were unharmed.

"With the help of the owners we were able to identify the other guests,” said Zanto.

The Downtown Motel has been in St. Charles for many years. The current owners have owned the motel for nearly four. Neighbors say the owners recently remodeled the motel. But now, five of the ten rooms are destroyed. Firefighters are combing through what’s left to determine the cause.

"That parts still under investigation with the State Fire Marshal. We just need to run through the course,” added Zanto.

The American Red Cross was on the scene early last night and through this afternoon, helping the owners and those staying in the motel.

"Basically shelter, bedding, clothing, and some personal needs, like medical or glasses,” said Gayle Gorman, a Client Casework Manager at the American Red Cross.

Owners, Terrance and Lisa Johnson say the motel does have insurance. But at this point, they’re not sure what will be covered. They too are waiting to see what caused this fire.

The two people that live at the motel are now staying at the White Valley Motel in St. Charles. The owners say anything that can be done to help them would ease their minds.