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March 22, 2018 11:51 AM

Authorities Investigating Suspicious Fire At Motel, Suspect Hospitalized

Sioux Falls

Investigators believe an early morning fire started at a Sioux Falls motel could be a case of arson or reckless burning.

Police and Sioux Falls Fire Rescue were first called at about 3:45 a.m. Thursday to the Nites Inn on West 12th Street near Grange Avenue.  Firefighters found one of the rooms was on fire while officers checked other rooms for guests.

Meanwhile, an officer driving nearby at 10th Street and Menlo Avenue saw a man running across the street. When stopped, he made comments to police that he may have started the fire. He was taken to a hospital by ambulance for cuts and burns.

According to Public Information Officer Sam Clemens, witnesses had seen him knocking or touching several of the doors at the motel after allegedly starting the fire. An acquaintance also told detectives that the man may have been using drugs before to the fire.

The suspect, identified as a 47-year-old man, has not been charged but had been staying at the room where the fire started. He will be transported to a burn unit in Minneapolis for further treatment.

Clemens said that the priority now is to provide medical treatment. But the investigation will continue into what caused the fire and what type of charges would be most appropriate.

"It really depends on what the fire investigators and the arson detectives find," Clemens said. "It could be reckless burning; it could be arson."
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