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Fire and police work an active situation at mobile home in west Rapid City.
courtesy of RC Fire Department
Fire and police work an active situation at mobile home in west Rapid City.

Rapid City Police say suicidal man sets fire to trailer; spreads to home


News Staff - May 11, 2018

RAPID CITY, S.D. - A call for service of a suicidal subject transformed into a structure fire requiring the response of dozens of law enforcement and fire personnel.

Minutes before 1:00 p.m., the RCPD responded to the 1700 block of 11th Street for a report of a suicidal individual. On arrival, police made contact with the reporting party who indicated the suicidal individual had entered a nearby recreational vehicle with a gas canister. The subject was also reported as potentially armed.

Shortly after arrival, responding officers observed that the camper had caught fire. Because of the large amount of fire coming from the camper, nearby structures were evacuated.

Fire crews from the Rapid City Fire Department arrived and began working to extinguish the fire. Due to the safety threat presented by the potentially armed, suicidal individual, fire personnel began attacking the fire from defensive positions under the scene security provided by responding law enforcement units. Ammunition stored in the trailer could be heard exploding as it burned in the fire.

As firefighters knocked down the fire, the body of a deceased individual was located inside the camper. The RCPD and Pennington County Sheriff's Office are currently working to positively identify the deceased individual.

This incident remains an open, active, and ongoing law enforcement investigation. Law enforcement units from the South Dakota Highway Patrol also assisted in the response to the incident.

The RCPD would like to join our fellow responding public safety agencies in thanking the surrounding neighborhood for their understanding and cooperation as we all worked to protect the safety of the area. The work of members of the media was also appreciated as we worked to get information out to the public regarding this public safety incident.

***THIS IS AN UPDATE ON THE STORY. PREVIOUS VERSIONS BELOW***

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RAPID CITY, S.D. - Authorities in Rapid City say a suicidal man started a fire Friday afternoon, resulting in an active situation for law enforcement and fire crews.  

Rapid City Police Chief Karl Jegeris was on the scene and posted on Facebook.

"An inital report was for a response to a suicidal subject that was threatening suicide. He had a can of gas and was threatening suicide by fire."

The home was located in the 1700 block of 11th Street in West Rapid City.

Fire Information Officer Lt. Jim Bussell says upon arrival, they were forced to fight the fire in what’s called a defensive mode due to the unknown status of the suicidal subject.

"Firefighters had to go in defensive mode, which means we couldn't directly engage the fire. We fought the fire under cover from law enforcement with weapons drawn, and that is because we aren't sure about the status of the subject. In defensive mode, we fight the fire as much as we can."

After about an hour in defensive mode, fire crews were told the threat had passed, an they were able to agressively knock the fire.

The fire had spread from the trailer to an outbuilding and then a primary residence.

Bussell says they rescued 4 dogs, two cats, a boa constrictor and some birds.

Rapid City Police Public Information Officer Brenden Medina says there is currently no threat to the public, but couldn't specify whether or not the suicidal subject was alive or not.


***THIS IS AN UPDATE TO OUR PREVIOUS STORY BELOW***

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RAPID CITY, S.D. - Authorities in Rapid City say a suicidal man started a fire Friday afternoon, resulting in an active situation for law enforcement and fire crews.  

Rapid City Police Chief Karl Jegeris was on the scene and posted on Facebook.

"An inital report was for a response to a suicidal subject that was threatening suicide. He had a can of gas and was threatening suicide by fire. At least one house was on fire and possibly a neighboring house."

The home was located in the 1700 block of 11th Street in West Rapid City.

The altercation put nearby Wilson Elementary School in lock-down status.

Witness reports of shots fired turned out to be ammunition exploding inside the home.

Chief Jegeris said it was a dangerous situation for first responders because they were unable to determine the status of the person who was suicidal.

"Fire crews are doing what they can to fight this fire, doing everything they can. Law enforcement is here to keep them safe. This is a tragic situation."

The RCFD remains on scene Friday afternoon and the RCPD is still trying to restore public safety.

Rapid City Fire also tweets it is an active situation and is telling people to avoid the area. They have rescued 4 dogs, two cats, a boa constrictor and some birds.

There is no word yet on the situation involving the suicidal subject.

*** THIS IS A BREAKING STORY, AND IS BEING UPDATE. PREVIOUS VERSION IN BELOW***

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RAPID CITY, S.D. - Authorities in Rapid City have responded to a trailer home fire on West Boulevard and Saint Charles Street.

Police and firefighters say the fire is the result of an altercation at the home, where they believe a man walked into the home and intentionally set it on fire.

Some witnesses on the scene have told local media they believe they heard shots fired.

The altercation has put nearby Wilson Elementary School in lock-down status.

Rapid City Fire tweets it is an active situation and is telling people to avoid the area.

This is a developing story and will be updated.




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