Firefighters challenged by crowds of on-lookers at Tea fire - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Firefighters challenged by crowds of on-lookers at Tea fire

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The fire that ripped through a Tea warehouse on Sunday has been ruled undetermined and the incident commander says there's no reason to suspect foul play. Firefighters battled the flames for several hours Sunday night but it was the crowd of on-lookers that proved to be the biggest challenge.

Firefighters are always in a race against the clock. When the call comes in, crews can get on scene in a matter of minutes, that is unless they're competing with "Lookie Lou's" and other thrill seekers.

"The less traffic we have to deal with on a scene like that the better it is, because it just slows everything down." Said Lincoln County Emergency Manager Harold Timmerman.

In Sunday's fire, it felt like everyone in Tea showed up to watch the show. As Sioux Falls Kitchen & Bath burned, on-lookers pulled out cameras and some even jumped on top of their cars to get a better look. Not that you'd need to given the size of the fire.

The number of cars in the area made it difficult for the tankers hauling in water to actually get to ground zero. But it wasn't just people swarming the scene that caused problems for fire fighters, it was also drivers on the interstate who slowed down and some even stopped to take a look.

"For a short while we had problems with people pulling over and parking, it is illegal to park along the interstate unless you're broke down or something like that." Said Captain Kevin Joffer with the South Dakota Highway Patrol.

Captain Joffer says the shoulder should be used for emergencies, not for a vantage point.

Luckily in this case, no one was injured in the fire or fire fighting efforts but it serves as a good reminder. If you don't need to be in the area, stand back and let the professionals do their job.

"I know people like to see what's going on but it's really a hazard for the emergency responders and the public themselves when the traffic gets all jammed up we can have accidents that don't need to happen and when those tanker tenders are coming through they need to have the right away and the less traffic they have to steer around the better." Said Timmerman.

Despite the fire, Sioux Falls Kitchen & Bath was open for business on Monday. They didn't want to comment further other than that they are looking to rebuilding as soon as possible.

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