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Fire investigation still underway

BY IAN MURPHY | APRIL 17, 2014 5:00 AM

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Numerous area fire departments were called in on Tuesday to help battle a fire that burned most of the night in Iowa City, and officials are still investigating the cause of the fire.

Smoke billowed from a building as the Iowa City Fire Department responded to a fire at 2339 Heinz Road in Iowa City Tuesday afternoon.

“The investigation is still going on,” said Eric Nurnberg, Iowa City Fire Department battalion chief. “We won’t have a comment until it is concluded.”

The Iowa City department was dispatched at 3:18 p.m. to respond to the fire at the 16,200-square-foot warehouse.

There is no estimate for damage to the structure or contents inside.

STS Transportation, Owen Masonry, ServPro, and Penske Truck Rental occupied the building.

Timothy Owen, the owner of Owen Masonry, rented one of the bays for storage and said his may be the only one that was spared from the flames.

“That’s the way it looks right now,” he said. “Water and smoke damage is the only thing I’ve got.”

Owen said he was thankful none of his employees were there, but the fire may cause his business to relocate because of the damage.

“All it did to us was make us relocate,” He said. “We’re looking [for a new location]. That’s about all you can do.”

Nurnberg said the fire broke out on the inside of the building, and the roof later collapsed, preventing firefighters from entering the building. The Fire Department fought the flames from the outside the building with two aerial units, numerous ground monitors, and numerous hand lines, he said.

One witness, Bonnie Harding, said she saw smoke from one of the buildings’ storage bays and then saw the warehouse light up.

“I didn’t see much of anything,” Harding said. “Just everything going up in flames.”

The Iowa City Fire Department arrived to find flames coming from three of the building’s 11 storage bays, as well as flames along the ridge of the roof. 

Smoke was still pouring out of the building Wednesday night. Nurnberg said the flames were under control by 7 p.m. Tuesday and crews finished operation at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

There were numerous explosions inside the building; however, Nurnberg said there were no reported injuries to either employees or emergency personnel.

Solon, West Branch, Hills, Coralville, North Liberty, Riverside, Lone Tree, and Tiffin departments were called in to either assist on scene or staff the Iowa City stations. Johnson County Ambulance and the Iowa City police also arrived on scene.

The building is valued $868,310 and is owned by Francis and Nancy Schneider of San Carlos, Calif., according to the Johnson County Assessor’s website.


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