Victim Identified in Deadly Janesville Fire


UPDATE: The Rock County Medical Examiner identified the victim as Dionelle Gates, 38, of Janesville.  The preliminary results of the autopsy confirm Gates died from injuries sustained in the fire.

UPDATE: The Rock County Medical Examiners Office conducted an autopsy on the victim.  It said there are no indications of foul play.  A toxicology test is pending.

Firefighters are still trying to determine what sparked the massive blaze at the 600 block of Main Street, in Janesville, on Sunday night.

“The police department arrived on scene around 8:05pm,” said Janesville Fire Chief Randy Banker.  “They found a female attempting to… make a rescue on the second floor balcony.”

She was unable to save the victim trapped upstairs, a 39 year-old man.  Several residents evacuated the home.  Michael Seefeldt’s daughter, a neighbor who lives across the street, recorded the fire on her cell phone.

“Flames were just shooting out of every window upstairs,” said Seefeldt.

Seefeldt and his wife have since moved some of their most valuable belongings to another location.

“At five in the morning, I took several bags and boxes of rare items to another [place] that is more secure,” he says.

Now, fire investigators are left with few clues and witnesses reports to determine how the fire started.  Chief Banker is worried it may take a long time, due to the extent of the damage.

“We have no pre-determined suggestions as to what the cause is,” said Banker.

The victim’s family is unable to stay at the home.  The Red Cross is assisting them.

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