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Officials Still Looking For Cause Of Deadly SF Fire

January 15, 2013, 4:59 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

Officials Still Looking For Cause Of Deadly SF Fire

The mother of three children killed in a Sioux Falls house fire is out of jail on bond and investigators still don't know what caused the deadly December fire.

Monday, 34-year-old Rhiannon White was charged with two counts of possession of drugs. Court documents say test results from her emergency room visit following the fire showed that she had meth, ecstasy and marijuana in her system.

It has been nearly a month since the fire in central Sioux Falls took the life of White's 16-year-old son and 12- and six-year-old daughters. Because the house hasn’t been structurally safe, investigators haven't been able to go inside to figure out what happened.

Right now, the house is boarded up and secured so it's safe for investigators to go inside, but authorities are now just waiting for the house to thaw out and dry out. When fire officials do go inside, police detectives will go right along with them.

"Anytime we have a death that's involved from a fire then they'll just go through to try to determine what the cause is and if there was anything suspicious," Sioux Falls Police Officer Sam Clemens said.

Clemens says a detective always assists the fire department with fire investigations. And as far as the recent charges against White, Clemens says detectives will consider all the information they have as they look for answers.

"Anytime we have information that comes up later, that's something they'll also look into to see if that may have been a contributing factor or not," Clemens said.

Sioux Falls Fire Marshal Dean Lanier says the recent charges won't affect his investigation at all. He hopes to get inside the house sometime next week to figure out what caused the fire.

"It's really a joint investigation. These guys work hand-in-hand together, but the fire department is looking at their cause and the police investigation side of it is just in case there are any criminal charges and that's going to be true with any type of fire that happens," Clemens said.

Following a fire that took three young lives and left so many people with so many questions, investigators hope to start finding answers soon.

The fire marshal hopes to conduct his investigation inside the house next Tuesday and come up with a preliminary cause at that point. It's just a day before White is expected to make her court appearance on the drug charges.

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