Fire forces four football players out of home

Tanya Marsh

Tanya Marsh

A house fire injured no one but left four SDSU students without a place to live last week.

Juniors Dusty Snyders and Micah Johnson and sophomores Andy Kardoes and Dan Jackson, all SDSU football players, lived in the house that burned Feb. 21.

Brookings fire chief Darrell Hartmann said the fire department was called to 1222 3rd St. just before 1 a.m. They arrived on the scene to find the house in flames but the occupants safely vacated.

Hartmann said the fire was likely caused by a long extension cord that was too light for the number of appliances running off of it.

“The cord appeared to have some stuff stacked on top of it. We believe that is what caused the fire,” he said.

Johnson, a pre-med student from Prescot, Ariz., lived in the basement, where the fire started. Fortunately, he was on the main floor when the fire began.

“Me and my roommates and a couple of friends were just hanging out playing PlayStation when we started to see smoke coming out from underneath one of our couches,” Johnson said. “Andy and I ran downstairs and we saw flames rolling out from the storage room.”

At that point, Johnson said he and Kardoes yelled to the others to get out of the house and within seconds, the house was filled with smoke.

“We were just getting out the door and smoke was filling in around us,” he said.

Though there was only heat damage to the basement and main floor, the entire house suffered smoke damage, Hartmann said.

Johnson said the smoke damage ruined everything.

“Pretty much everything was lost,” he said. “I can honestly say that I know what it feels like to have nothing but the clothes on your back.”

But with the effort of the Red Cross and the SDSU Athletic Department, that state was soon remedied.

Nancy Flynn, chapter executive of the Brookings County Chapter of the American Red Cross, explained what the organization did to help.

“We provided three nights at a hotel and made sure everyone had two sets of clothing and food for a week.”

John Stiegelmeier, head football coach, said that the university also chipped in to help the men out.

“The university replaced their books and offered them housing in the dorm. And in the athletic department, we’ve put up a list of things they’ve lost and people in our department are donating dish towels, pizza pans,” he said.

The men appreciate everything that has been done for them.

“The Red Cross has been unbelievable,” Snyders said. “Our teammates, the coaching staff and the athletic department have been great too. They’ve been awesome.”

After spending a few nights in a hotel and with friends, the men have found new apartments to live in. Although the four had hoped to live together, for the rest of the semester they will be living in two two-bedroom apartments.

The men are glad that they and their cat are alive and safe.

Johnson said, “I’m grateful to be alive. If it hadn’t been a three-day weekend, we all would have been sleeping at that time. Since my room was downstairs, I’d probably be dead and so would everyone else, probably.

“It made me appreciate my family, friends, team, everyone in general.”