We now know how the fire started that heavily damaged the Minnehaha County Corrections Center. It seems uncanny as to how the exact conditions came together to make it happen.

Sioux Falls Fire Rescue Fire Marshal Dean Lanier says the fire is deemed accidental in nature because there was no way to know on Sunday, September 16 just before 3:00 PM that a smoldering element would ignite.

“The origin of the fire was a cigarette butt container that sat in a corner of the building. It smoldered for quite a few minutes and then started the fire sometime after. Over time, it melted the exterior of the container and started spreading into the roof line.”

On that day a strong breeze was blowing and Lanier says the strength and direction were instrumental in fueling the blaze.

“The container itself isn’t designed to really support enough air to be able to catch fire. Because of the winds that day, there was enough whipping of air to be able to get that air down into the can itself.”

Once the fire spread to the roof, Lanier explains that the wood structure and the abundant fuel and air allowed the fire to work with little resistance through the upper level.


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