Bystanders and firefighters made multiple rescues during a Friday morning fire at an apartment building in Rapid City, according to the Rapid City Fire Department.
"The incident this morning could have had a very, very tragic ending," said a news release from the department. "Were it not for the heroic actions of civilians and first responders, the outcome would have been much, much different."
At 6:30 a.m., firefighters were dispatched to the fire at 2021 Cherry Ave. Dispatchers had fielded calls from people who were trapped inside the burning building.
As firefighters arrived, employees from Collins Siding, which is located across the street from the apartment building, were rescuing a female occupant from the balcony of one of the apartments. Employees of the business were carrying the individual down a ladder.
Firefighters noticed blinds moving in a basement window, so they broke the window and extended a ladder into the basement apartment. The occupant of the apartment lay face-down on the ladder and was pulled from the burning building by firefighters. The technique was taught and practiced by Rapid City firefighters two weeks ago during drills in the 700 block of West Street.
At least four more people were assisted from the building by bystanders and firefighters. As a result, no deaths or serious injuries occurred.
The American Red Cross serving central and western South Dakota was called to the scene and is assisting occupants with immediate needs such as lodging, clothing and medications. Several occupants of the building were evaluated by paramedics, but all declined treatment and transport.
Rapid City Fire Department posted on social media that eight people were displaced by the fire.
It took fire crews 30 minutes to stop the growth of the fire. Crews remained on scene extinguishing hot spots until about 9:30 a.m.
The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Rapid City Fire Department Fire and Life Safety Division and the Rapid City Police Department.
A statement from the fire department said, "The Rapid City Fire Department wishes to extend its profound thanks to neighboring businesses for their assistance and thoughtful gestures during this incident. In addition to performing a rescue, Collins Siding employees opened their building to displaced occupants, provided rooms for fire investigators to conduct interviews, and provided refreshments and food for firefighters. We would also like to thank the Girl Scouts Dakota Horizons for their generous offering of snacks and refreshments to firefighters and responders."