Former Department Store Building Destroyed in Fire

DES MOINES, Iowa - More information on the major fire in downtown Des Moines that destroyed a century old building early this morning.

Fire crews say the fire broke out at about 1:00 a.m. at the old Younkers Building on Walnut between 7th and 8th Streets.

Firefighters found the flames in the upper floors of the 7-story building, which dates back to at least 1899.

The top floors of the building collapsed soon after.

No injuries to report but the heat radiating from the building led to extensive damage to the EMC Insurance Building and Hub Tower.

"You could hear it several different times. As each phase of the building fell, just a lot of loud, banding and clanging and a huge plume of dust. Stuff you usually see on TV. You don't see it in person," said Jeramy McMillen, who witnessed the fire.

"We did an initial movement into the building but we were turned away rapidly by the heat, the flames, the collapse of the interior and exterior," said Brian O'Keefe, the Des Moines Fire Department spokesman.

Saturday afternoon, the Des Moines Register reported at least 6 firefighters were inside the building when the top floors collapsed.

On top of the damage, a state inspector said the building is an asbestos-contaminated site and will require a specialized process to remove it.
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