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Fire Damages Several Buildings, Businesses in Downtown Monticello

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MONTICELLO, Iowa No one was injured following a Wednesday morning fire in downtown Monticello. Firefighters were called to the scene, in the 100 block of East First Street, at about 3:40 a.m.

Crews focused their efforts on the building that housed Monticello Carpet and Interiors, 108 East First Street. "We had fire extension out the back end of the building and it was visible flames," said Monticello Fire Chief Mark Stoneking. Officials were concerned about the proximity of other buildings. Most of the retailers on that block are wall-to-wall, making it easy for the fire to spread. "They have fire walls built in between them, although oftentimes over the years they are breached," Stoneking said. "In this case we had fire extension into one other building but it was contained to those two."

Several residents who lived in apartments above and behind the shops were evacuated. Police said they evacuated less than a dozen people. "I just got woken up this morning and walked out and there's flames coming over me," said shley Husmann, 19. Husmann was one of a few taken to City Hall to stay warm, while others found shelter with relatives. She was thankful the officer was aggressive in the search for people in the apartments. The 19-year-old didn't wake up to the initial knock on the door. "I'm a hard sleeper. Husmann said. "He actually came into my bedroom and woke me up.

Monticello City Manager Doug Herman said firefighters believe the fire started near the back of the carpet store or next door in the building that was housing a new salon. He said the State Fire Marshal's Office would arrive on scene later in the afternoon to help find the official cause.

Stoneking said the department was working to assess the damage. He said other nearby stores also had some water or smoke damage. Firefighters continued to check for hot spots at the scene on Wednesday

Firefighters from Monticello, Manchester, Cascade, Hopkinton and Anamosa assisted the Monticello Fire Department.

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