Apartment Fire in Southwest Cedar Rapids Contained

By Jeff Raasch, Reporter

Firefighters work to extinguish a fire at 433 Fourth Ave. SW this afternoon, Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2011. The fire started in an upstairs unit and spread to two adjacent units. No injuries were reported. (Jeff Raasch/SourceMedia Group News)


By Aaron Hepker

Cedar Rapids Apartment Fire

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Two and a half years removed one disaster, Robin Cole was dealing with another one Tuesday.

Fire broke out two doors down from the Cole at the southwest Cedar Rapids apartment building where she lived with her boyfriend and 1-year-old son. All of them escaped unharmed after someone pounded on their door and yelled “Fire! Get out!” around noon.

Cole was living on the first floor of the apartment building, at 433 Fourth Ave. SW when historic flooding damaged it in June 2008. After a year away, she recently moved back in to an upstairs unit.

“I lost everything in the flood,” said Cole, 23. “Now I guess we’re going to have to pick up everything again.”

Officials said six adults and two young children were inside the apartment building when the fire broke out, but all escaped unharmed. A firefighter rescued a dog from one of the units and put it in the back of a police car, witnesses said.

Fire department spokesman Greg Buelow said the fire started in Apartment 6 on the second floor and spread to two adjacent apartments. Two more apartments on the ground floor sustained water damage, he said.

Chaz Davis, 45, said he was asleep in his ground-floor apartment when banging on his door alerted him to the fire. When he got outside, he saw flames coming from the door and windows of Apartment 6.

“I could feel the heat coming from the building from the other side of the parking lot,” Davis said.

Witnesses told police an adult female who was inside the burning apartment ran from the scene. Officers patrolled the area, but were unable to find her by mid-afternoon.

An investigation is under way to determine a cause for the two-alarm blaze, officials said.

Cole said she anticipated smoke damage to her belongings in her second-floor unit.

“Our kid is OK, and we’re OK, and that’s all that matters,” Cole said.

The Salvation Army and the American Red Cross were providing assistance to the apartment residents, who were all expected to be displaced.

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