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Fire takes two Kadoka Main Street buildings, authorities calling it arson

Only a memory now … Firemen worked throughout the early morning hours on March 9th to get this Kadoka Main Street fire under control. As seen in the photo, smoke escapes the roof top seam along the front of the building. The fire on the upper level blazed for a couple of hours before the firemen decided demolition was their only option. Firemen kept a steady stream of water on each section being torn off by backhoe operator Roger Neiffer. In addition to the Kadoka Fire Department, Philip sent two units to Kadoka. The two buildings, being used for storage by owner Joe Handrahan, were a total loss. The state fire marshal, who was on the scene later in the day, has officially called it arson and the case is under investigation. Cleanup has already begun.

Kadoka’s Main Street is short a couple of buildings after an early morning fire on Thursday.

Kadoka Fire Chief Rich Bendt said he arrived at the scene about 12:45 a.m. and he could see flames coming from between the two buildings.

There was a narrow walkway between the buildings where steps were attached to the two-story corner building. That’s where the fire was believed to have started.

State Deputy Fire Marshall Cliff Dahl investigated the fire later on Thursday and said they are treating it as a “fire suspicious of nature.” In other words, Dahl is calling it arson. The fire is under investigation and he declined to comment any further.

The two buildings were owned by Joe Handrahan of Kadoka and located on the corner of Main and Poplar Streets.

While assisting the fire department Handrahan said the fire appeared to be suspicious. “There wasn’t any electricity in the building,” he said while manning the end of a fire hose.

Handrahan said the buildings were being used for storage. Neither building has been used as a business for many years. Several years ago there were plans to start a second-hand store. That type of items were stored there.

The fire was spotted by Cory Lurz and proper authorities were notified.

Kadoka firemen, along with crews from Philip, worked for several hours in an attempt to extinguish the fire.

The main concern was to contain the fire to the two buildings and keep it from spreading to the Jackson County Library which is the third of four buildings in a connected nature. If the next building, the former laundromat of Bud Olney’s, would have caught on fire, it would have been more than the two departments could have handled.

Firemen are thankful that the fire wasn’t wind driven as they kept steady blasts of water spraying the corner building on three sides. The main blaze was coming from the upper level, where it was harder to control -- even using a boom bucket.

In the meantime, crews successfully kept the fire from spreading to the library.

The never-ending battle came closer to an end when a decision was made to start demolition on the structure.

As Roger Neiffer pulled away sections of the corner building with a backhoe, flames burst out and fireman quickly doused each blaze. They were on their way to putting an end to the fire.

The fire chief said all but one truck was back inside the fire hall at 7:00 a.m.

It was estimated that 100,000 gallons of water was used.

Thursday and Friday crews were on hand to start the cleanup.

Bendt commended the volunteer firemen. “The firemen know what they have to do,” he said. “When you have a good crew with so many past fire chiefs and assistant chiefs, they get the job done.”