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One Man Dead In Apartment Fire

November 6, 2012, 5:52 PM by Shawn Neisteadt

One Man Dead In Apartment Fire

One person is dead from an early morning apartment fire.

It happened on North Covell Avenue, which is just north of Covell Lake in Sioux Falls, just after 4:00 Tuesday morning.  Investigators say the victim is 26-year-old Heath Westphal.

Fire investigators spent several hours on the scene, sifting through the ashes and charred remains of the top floor apartment.  Investigators say the flames were contained to that single apartment which is where Westphal was found. They believe it was started accidentally in the living room.

"It's human nature to become complacent, so it's always good to remind everybody to make sure you have your cooking things turned off, make sure your smoking materials, matches and cigarettes are completely out and empty out ash trays often," Assistant Fire Marshall Mike Top said.

And while investigators continue to recreate the scene and pinpoint the exact cause, they say it's a good reminder for everyone.

"Most importantly is to make sure you have working smoke alarms in your bedroom, outside your bedroom and then at least one on each floor and make sure they're all working," Top said.

Fire officials say in this situation, smoke detectors prevented this already bad situation from being worse. The sound of the detectors woke up the apartment's other residents.  They all escaped safely.

“You're sharing space, you're sharing walls that are just separating each other, so you're a little bit more vulnerable to your neighbors,” Top said.

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