NewBo Fire 41st Vacant Home to Catch Fire in Flood Zone

By Dave Franzman, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - A fire spotted by a passing police officer damaged a vacant home in the NewBo area of southeast Cedar Rapids Monday morning.

The fire at 1228 3rd St. S.E. was reported at just at 8:30 a.m. Monday. Crews responding searched for anyone inside but did not find anyone. Assistant Fire Chief Greg Smith said crews were able to determine utilities were disconnected at the home. So Smith said the likeliest explanation is someone caused the fire.

"Obviously it's either a suspicious fire or we've got some people living or residing inside the vacant structure. We don't have confirmation of that at this point and we're still taking a look. Once we get the fire knocked down we'll look at what activity we had in there," Smith said.

Fires breaking out in vacant flood-damaged homes was a constant problem right after the flood of June 2008. Firefighters tallied 40 such incidents through 2012. This fire in the vacant home is the 41st. However, one fire spokesperson said this was the first fire in a vacant home in the flood zone since December of 2012.

The vacant home damaged by Monday's fire was owned by the Jean Vondracek Trust.

Cold also hampered efforts to put out the fire. A city bus was brought in for firefighters to use as a warming station.
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