Oskaloosa firefighters battle major blaze and freezing temps


Oskaloosa Firefighters battle the blaze at Precise Imaging December 12 in near 0 degree weather and heavy winds (photo D.Hubbard)

Firefighters were called to an apartment building with heavy smoke coming from the structure at 5:19 yesterday evening.

The building contained all apartments and was  located next to Precise Imaging on 717 High Ave West. The apartments had been evacuated and all residents were accounted for.

When firefighters arrived on the scene there was only smoke coming from the building with no visible flames. 10 minutes after they arrived on the scene, flames did become apparent.

Both buildings are a total loss. There were  5 families displaced by the blaze Sunday evening.

Chief Neff stated that the cause of the fire has yet to be determined. It is going to be really difficult with not only the weather conditions but the ice that has accumulated, from water spray, while fighting the fire. “Everything is froze down in there.  The structure is really not safe to be in.”

Neff said he is not prepared to say where the fire started. “We’re still trying to figure that out.  We should know something here in 2 or 3 days.  If we can’t find enough hard evidence to say exactly where it started and why, it’s probably just going to be undetermined. It’s going to be really difficult with the amount of fire damage, we have to really nail it down” stated Neff.

Firefighters battling not only the fire but the elements to bring the flames under control (photo D.Hubbard)

34 firefighters were working the scene with Oskaloosa, New Sharon, Cedar Township (Fremont), and Eddyville there to assist.  B&H Automotive, Rehab Centers and Mediacom opened up their facilities during the fire to allow emergency personnel to warm themselves during the harsh cold conditions.

Hy-Vee, Pizza-Hut, McDonalds, and the FAST Team (Fireman’s Auxiliary Support Team) supplied the firefighters with a lot of coffee and food. “We really appreciate it.  It does make life a little easier when you’re out here and you can get something warm to drink and some food. You don’t realize how much energy you burn up when your out working and trying to stay warm” stated Neff.

2000 gallons a minute for about 5 hours or 600,000 gallons of water were used to drench the fire.  Firefighters were on the scene until 10:30 p.m. Sunday evening battling both the flames and cold and they were back at the scene this morning to put some water on a few hot spots in order to cool them down again.

Emergency Management Coordinator, Jamey Robinson, said that if anyone wants to make donations to the families, they can do so at Love Inc. located at the United Way building across from Hy-Vee.  Specific needs and clothing sizes are unknown at this time. In times like this, money donations certainly allow flexibility to fill the needs as they become apparent.

There is nothing left of Precise Imaging, a local printing company that lost everything during the fire

Justin and Caree Gordon were residents of the building. “Anything and everything” is what Justin says they need at this point.

Justin is a theologian in training.  He lost his library and his computers needed for schooling. Some of his books dated back to 1865 and 1917, “you can’t find those anymore” Justin said. He’s an online student and wondering how he will continue his training at this point.

The Gordon’s did lose some pets in the fire. They had a pair of rabbits that Caree had before the couple was married. “Outside of those 2 animals, it’s just stuff. It can be replaced, people can’t” Gordon said while looking on the bright side in that no person was hurt during the fire.

The Red Cross has placed the couple in a motel for tonight and tomorrow night, but after that they are on their own.

Yesterday was Justin’s 25th birthday. He said it was so crazy because people were wishing him a happy birthday and then later that night, on Facebook, he had to post to those same friends and family that they had lost their home in the fire. “To go from that high to this low, very emotional” said Gordon while looking at what remained of their home.

Posted by on Dec 13 2010. Filed under Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

1 Comment for “Oskaloosa firefighters battle major blaze and freezing temps”

  1. […] Oskaloosa firefighters battle major blaze and freezing temps- December 13th […]

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