Downtown Hot Springs fire destroys four businesses
HOT SPRINGS, S.D. — Four businesses on North River Street in downtown Hot Springs were lost after a fire swept through overnight, leaving many residents in disbelief.
Reports came in at 8:30 p.m. on Monday of a possible electrical issue in The Vault downtown Hot Springs bar and grill, causing smoke. When first responders arrived on scene The Vault, China Buffet, Gus’s Best Ice Cream and The HeartSong Quilts Shop were engulfed by flames.
“We tried to make entry into the upstairs of The Vault and couldn’t get in there, it was too hot, too much smoke, too much fire. Backed out, realized we couldn’t go initial hands-on on the fire so we went and started hitting it from the outside” said Chief Dar Coy, Hot Springs Volunteer Fire Department.
Firefighters went on the defensive, holding on and trying to prevent other buildings from catching fire as help arrived from across the region. Residents saw the damage for themselves at first light, mostly in stunned silence from across Fall River as firefighters continued to put out small fires. The 115 year old iconic sandstone had become blackened and brittle from the intense heat of the fire.
“Obviously we are very devastated, this is the heart of our downtown business district. First thing that one of the owners of one of the businesses said to me last night when we met was, ‘I’m going to rebuild’, and that’s what we’re going to do, we’re going recover from this.” said Mayor of Hot Springs George Kotti.
Community members openly embraced each other with hugs and words of support, particularly to the business owners, who stood on the sidewalk – exhausted and numb from what was then a 12 hour marathon since the night before.
“Hot Springs is amazing when it comes to the community support for not just businesses but everybody. So going forward that’s going to be our big thing I think is the cleanup and getting those businesses back up and running.” said Captain William Wainman, Hot Springs Police Department.
According to Mayor Kotti, River Street will be remaining closed and there is no word yet on when it will open again.
“Just keep us in your prayers,” said Mayor Kotti “and I know we got a community that whenever a situation like this develops, we pull together and we’ll get through it”
Kotti also says he’s already looking forward to the ribbon cutting ceremony, when all of the businesses are rebuilt, and re-opened. Officials say there are still many unanswered questions and fire marshals continue to investigate the cause of the fire.
If you are looking to help out the Fire Department in Hot Springs, according to the Fall River County Sheriff’s Office, anyone wanting to drop off beverages and/or snacks for the fire fighters can do so at the Hot Springs Fire Hall.