Mayor speaks following Riverside fire investigation

Published: Dec. 21, 2016 at 9:18 PM CST
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The Riverside mayor says the city will take another look at building codes after a fire killed a woman.

The fire killed Tracy Williams, of Kalona. She was inside the building that caught on fire on Highway 22 Monday night. They took her to the hospital, where she died. Friends say she was the girlfriend of the person who lived in the building.

Property records show the building is zoned for commercial use, not residential. Those records from the Washington County assessor also list the building as vacant.

Mayor Allen Schneider says the community is moving forward.

"What can we do as a community to make sure that we're there for anyone who needs assistance," Schneider said.

Friends of the man who owned the building that burned down say he lived there, which goes against city code.

"My understanding of the ordinances, residential is not allowed on the ground floor,” Schneider said.

The city however says it did not know someone was living there.

A neighboring town, Washington, says it does have certain policies in place to stop people from breaking the rules.

"Most of the codes we have with the building code and the fire code is to protect people we assess renovations downtown here,” building and zoning administrator Steve Donnolly said.

He says the city found someone was actually living in commercial property a few years ago. The city first sends a letter, but could take them to court if they don’t leave. In that instance the person left the building once the city threatened to take them to court.

Riverside Mayor Schneider says his town isn't ruling out any possibilities to make sure something like this doesn't happen again.

“All options are open at this point, I guess it's a possibility that we will do more checks in the future but I really can't say with any certainty,” Schneider said.

He says the city will discuss it at the next city council meeting early next month.