Snowplows Destroyed, Benton County Building a Total Loss After Saturday Fire

By Dave Franzman, Reporter

VINTON, Iowa - A fire at the Benton County Secondary Roads Department could mean a loss of upwards of $400,000 in equipment for the county.

The fire was reported sometime after 11 a.m. on Saturday at a storage building used to house snowplows and other equipment in Vinton.

The county engineer, Myron Parizek, said road crews were out with some of the equipment on Saturday morning, working on the icy roads from Friday's winter weather. Crews had returned the two double tandem snowplow trucks to the storage building at 1701 W. 1st Street about an hour before the fire was discovered.

Parizek said, in addition to the two large snowplow trucks, the fire also destroyed a service truck, a bucket truck and a skid loader. The building that burned also housed the county's recycling program until last spring.

Parizek said workers did not notice any problems when they put the two snowplows back in the storage building.

"Everything was fine, everybody clocked out and went home. How the fire started is yet to be determined. But something happened in this building and the end result is we lost everything inside," Parizek said.

Vinton Fire Chief Gary McKenna did not have an official cause. But he does have his suspicions.

"The building was heated so it's a good chance something might have malfunctioned with the heater. It'll be real tough to figure out what caused it with the amount of damage," McKenna said.

The loss of the equipment leaves Benton County with only eight snowplows, rather than ten. Parizek said if the county is forced to buy new equipment, that would mean a four- to six-month wait for delivery.

Vinton firefighters called in two other departments to fight the blaze. It took about two hours to get the fire under control.
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