Community members step up to help man who lost home in fire

This photo posted on a Facebook page by Dean Glenn shows the home of John Nelson fully engulfed in flames on Sunday, Jan. 14.


Festive Rewards winner donates his cash prize

By Brett Nachtigall


EDGEMONT – After working all through the previous night at the Edgemont Yesway, John Nelson was asleep in his home, on Sunday, Jan. 14, when one of his two dogs came into his room to awake him, just before 6 p.m. in the evening.

Nelson, who lived alone in his one-story, frame-built home located at 11370 Camp Collier Road, about three miles northeast of Edgemont off of Hwy. 18., opened his eyes to a bright orange glow in the hallway. He soon discovered the glow was due to his couch ablaze in the living room. He was able to quickly push his couch outside the nearby door, but by that time, much of the carpet and the rest of the room was already on fire.

With smoke now filling the room making it nearly impossible to see and breathe, Nelson said he had to get out of the home, so he grabbed his dog Chione and exited the home with nothing else but the clothes on his back, he said.

The Edgemont Volunteer Fire Department, Edgemont Ambulance and the Fall River County Sheriff’s Deputies were dispatched to the residence which was fully engulfed at the time of their arrival. 

Nelson said one of the fire trucks emptied its supply of water, but due to the sub-zero temperatures, the water froze up on the other trucks. His home became a total loss, and in it was also his other dog who perished in the fire along with all of his possessions.

According to Nelson, he said the official cause of the fire is undetermined, however, he’s quite certain that it was electrical and was likely started from an outlet located behind the couch. He however said he didn’t think there was anything plugged into the outlet, but that was the only thing behind the couch where it started.

Nelson said the house was owned by his uncle, who had inherited it, but he had lived in the house for about 20 years and had been paying all of the bills. The registered owners are Henry and Arlys Bray. Nelson is temporarily staying at the home of Pat and Carol Danks until more permanent housing can be found.

After the fire, a request was posted on Facebook in which people could donate clothing, shoes, dog food and other items to help Nelson.

One of the Edgemont residents who saw that plea for help was David Zimiga, who was one of the Fall River County Herald-Star’s $250 winners, as part of the recent Fall River Festive Rewards local shopping incentive program.

Last week, Zimiga called the Herald-Star office and asked that the newspaper transfer his winnings to Nelson in order to help during his time of need.

Anyone else interested in donating items to Nelson is asked to drop them off at the Yesway grocery store in Edgemont. Cash donations can also be made at First Interstate Bank or through the PayPal account This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., using the friends and family option.

Fall River County Herald Star

EDGEMONT OFFICE: 410 2nd Avenue   Edgemont, SD 57735-0660 | 605.662.7201
HOT SPRINGS OFFICE: 334 S. Chicago St.  Hot Springs, SD 57747 | 605.745.3930
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