Talks begin over fire damaged Johnson County roads facility


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The cause of a Monday afternoon fire at the Johnson County Secondary Roads Building remains unknown, but the Board of Supervisors is eager to put repair plans on the fast track.

During a Thursday morning meeting, the supervisors discussed how to move forward following major damages to the facility at 4810 Melrose Ave.

Iowa City Fire Department Capt. Eric Nurnberg said the fire, which started around 4:45 p.m. that day, involved some vehicles parked inside the building as well as the structure itself. Fire-suppression work was still taking place at 9:30 p.m. that day.

Six on-duty Iowa City Fire Department units responded. West Branch, Hills, Solon, and Coralville, as well as the Johnson County Ambulance Service, assisted.

Supervisor Chairwoman Janelle Rettig confirmed that maintenance workers found the building on fire when they arrived between 4:45 and 5 p.m. She said the building itself is now uninhabitable. Of the county’s 20 total large snow/all-weather trucks, eight are out of commission.

“Three of them will never be driven again,” she said. “Of the other five, some have severe damages, and I don’t know if they will be used in the future or not.”

Rettig said the building has a strong insurance policy, but the vehicles were not insured. She said the trucks have assessed values between $180,000 and $300,000. The age of the trucks range from more than 13 years to one just 2 months old.

Rettig said the county would still be able to handle severe weather.

“We will be able to handle a snowstorm, but we need patience in doing that,” she said. “The damage would’ve been much more severe if it wasn’t for the help of local municipalities.”

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