Structure fire at construction site in downtown Iowa City

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - A structure fire occurred at a construction site in downtown Iowa City on Tuesday afternoon.

Flames engulf the Hodge-Hieronymus Square construction project in downtown Iowa City on March 5, 2019 (Courtesy: Michael/myCapture)

Fire crews responded to a fire at a construction site on the corner of Clinton and Burlington Streets just before 2:45 p.m. Flames were seen shooting from the building. Battalion Chief Brian Rohr with the Iowa City Fire Department said it took them less than 30 minutes to get the fire out, but crews remained on scene for hours looking for hot-spots and other potential hazards.

The fire was at the Hodge-Hieronymus Square development, which is being constructed on a piece of land that sat vacant for decades. The planned building would feature two 7-story towers with hotel, office, retail, and apartment space.

Originally when the Iowa City Fire Department got on scene, they thought they could get the fire under control pretty quickly- but with the cold temperatures and high winds, it was much more difficult than expected.

"Initially, we had just fire coming out of one window," Rohr said. "As we sat here [dealing with] a pretty high wind today, we saw it starting to go horizontal both directions. Then it got up into the fourth floor... and from there it just shot the whole length of the building."

A worker was in the operation part of the crane, stories above the fire. He safely exited the crane after fire officials performed a special rescue for him.

Rohr said crews were unaware of the worker inside the crane when they arrived, but were told by another worker on site about five minutes into their firefighting.

"We ended up just sheltering him in place, just because of the flame impingement on the crane," Rohr said. "We were able to direct our hose streams to the base of the crane, we got the fire out, then we set up our rescue team with some high angle equipment, and got him out of the crane."

Traffic along Burlington and Clinton Street was affected by fire trucks in the roadway. City officials warned that disruptions to road and pedestrian traffic are likely until fire crews have finished their operations.

City officials said damaged parts of the construction site will be taken down Wednesday morning.

The fire remains under investigation.


A structure fire at a construction site at the corner of Clinton and Burlington Streets in Iowa City on March 5, 2019 (Courtesy: Jared Cook)