Nine people were able to escape from an overnight duplex fire in Pierre last night.

The Pierre Volunteer Fire Department was dispatched to the fire at the 100 block of East Eighth Street (north of Pierre's Donut Shop just east off of North Euclid Avenue). around 12:15 this morning. Upon arrival, they noted smoke and flames visible from the front of the two-story duplex.

The first responder on the scene, Assistant Fire Chief Byron Caauwe, observed an adult female fighting through smoke and flames to get back into the home. Asst. Chief Caauwe crawled through the smoke-filled home to locate the woman and bring her to safety.

“She has four kids and didn’t think they all made it out of the home; she was going back in to find them,” said Pierre Fire Chief Ian Paul. “I’m happy to report all of the children had made it to safety, and Caauwe was able to get the mom out safely, as well.”

A different family of four occupied the lower unit of the duplex and was able to escape without incident.

“The most important thing in these circumstances is saving lives,” said Paul. “I’m very thankful that everyone, including the first-responders, got out of the home without injury.”

Firefighter were able to suppress the fire within 45 minutes, but remained on scene for several more hours to extinguish hot spots.

The upper unit of the duplex suffered significant loss; the lower unit suffered water and smoke damage.

The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.

Response agencies included Pierre Volunteer Fire Department, Fort Pierre Volunteer Fire Department, American Medical Response (ambulance), and law enforcement.

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