Blaze hospitalizes one SDSU student

Tammie Tamara

Tammie TamaraSection Editor

A Thursday morning fire left one SDSU student in intensive care and five others without a home. As a blaze destroyed the duplex of 215 and 217 6th Ave., junior David Mousel was severely burned.

“One gentleman exited down the stairs out the front, and he’s the one that received burns,” Fire Chief Darrell Hartmann said.

Junior Tigh Surdez, who lived in one side of the duplex with juniors Greg Geary and Nate Huls, said Mousel’s burns were extensive.

“It was about 50 percent of his body,” he said. “He’s getting skin grafts tomorrow.”

Mousel is currently in Intensive Care at Avera McKennan in Sioux Falls and will be receiving skin grafts.

Two other residents, Martin Calkins and Robert Stoeser, sustained minor injuries in escaping through their second-story windows, Surdez said.

“Rob and Martin were breaking out their windows,” he said. “They had to go get stitches in their hands.” Surdez added that he and Huls escaped safely and Geary had not been home at the time of the fire.

Hartmann said he was called to the duplex at 1:14 a.m. on Thursday. It took 40 firemen a considerable amount of time to get the blaze extinguished.

“We left the scene at 6 a.m. We had the fire out prior to that, but we were making sure we didn’t have any hot spots and picking up our equipment.”

He cited the cause of the fire as an overloaded extension cord and said there would be no investigation.

“It’s closed. We went in Thursday morning … and investigated,” he said. “The insurance company adjuster came to the exact same conclusion.”

Hartmann called the property, owned by Zeno Wicks, “a total loss.”

With the exception of Mousel, the men have been staying at the Staurolite Inn.

“Greg and I are moving in with a friend, and Nate’s moving in with a teammate from the baseball team,” Surdez said. “Rob and Martin got their own apartment.”

Surdez said he’s been impressed with the kindness he’s encountered since the fire, mentioning efforts to help including the donation of baseball equipment from the Sports Connection, a fundraiser at Cubby’s, funds set up at Wells Fargo Bank and First National Bank, the donation of textbooks from SDSU and the help of the Red Cross and the Staurolite Inn in funding lodging.

Surdez said the fire has given him new perspective.

“It’s kind of an eye-opener,” he said. “I pay more attention to the outlets and the things like that.”

Hartmann stressed the role of fire alarms.

“Working smoke alarms saved their lives,” he said. “It’s a key point to make sure these are in working order at all times.”