CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Fire fighters battled flames for hours in the second fire in the flood zone this week.
The vacant, two-story building at the corner of 2nd St. SE and 14th Ave. SE caught fire at around 1:30 Friday morning. Crews arrived to find a massive scene of smoke and fire in the NewBo area of Cedar Rapids.
"The first unit was arriving on scene at 1:34 a.m. and saw heavy smoke on all four sides of the building and also heavy fire coming out of the back side of the structure," Said Greg Buelow with the Cedar Rapids Fire Department.
The crew fought the flames defensively, noticing they were too large to get inside the structure. After about four hours, the fire department had pretty much extinguished the flames. The only thing left behind of the old building that used to house a small business was mound of charred wood and metal.
Today, investigators will turn their attention on what started the early-morning fire.
"At this point, it's pretty clear there was some type of human element involved. There's no lightning, no utilities to the building," Buelow said. "So, some of your more likely causes of a structure fire are not there."
This fire comes as investigators rule the blaze earlier in the week an arson case. That fire at 57 18th Ave. SW started at a vacant two-story home around 7:30 Wednesday morning. That blaze was extinguished very quickly.
No injuries were reported in either case.
"The positive thing about the flood fires is, before Wednesday, we had gone since August without a fire in the flood zone. Part of that is the reason that, over 1,100 structures have been torn down since the flood of 2008," Buelow said. "The reality is that when you have buildings that are vacant and boarded up, those who have ill intent, have opportunity."
Investigators are asking anyone with information about the fires to call the Cedar Rapids Fire Department at 319-286-5200.