Saturday house fire under investigation

Fort Madison firefighters work on a house on fire in the 1200 block of Avenue D Saturday afternoon. The home was unoccupied and there were no injuries, but it is considered a total loss. Photo by Chuck Vandenberg/PCC


FORT MADISON – A fire that broke out Saturday afternoon in the 1200 block of Avenue D is under investigation according to Fort Madison Fire Chief Joey Herren.

The fire destroyed the home at 1210 Avenue D listed as owned by Kenneth Swolley as fire was battled on all floors. Herren said firefighters thought they had the blaze knocked down on the second floor, but then the basement caught fire.

“They started fighting it on the second floor and thought they had it down, but then the basement got going and It had them cut off for a bit. But they fought their way out of it,” Herren said. “It didn’t want to cooperate very much.”

Herren said communications via the radio systems again were difficult between firefighters and LeeComm dispatch. He had trouble calling for mutual aid due to poor signal and had to revert to an text app to get assistance. Several Fort Madison firefighters were at graduations, and out of town for Mother’s Day weekend.

Fort Madison Fire Chief Joey Herren, center, helps feed a line into the home at 1210 Avenue D Saturday afternoon as flames can be seen in the reflection of the door glass. Firefighters battled the blaze until just after 7 p.m. on scene. The fire broke out shortly after 3 p.m. and the house has been determined to be a total loss. Photo by Chuck Vandenberg/PCC

“We had to call in Denmark for mutual aid on that. They have a lot of young guys and we were missing some being out of town,” Herren said, “But it was bad again. We gotta get those (radios) fixed.”

Herren didn’t comment on the point of origin or the potential cause of the blaze saying it was under investigation. He said the home was unoccupied and no utilities were connected at the time of the fire.

Firefighters with Fort Madison Fire & Rescue, Denmark Fire & Rescue, Fort Madison Police, and Lee County EMS officials assisted at the scene for about five hours.

The building was valued at $94,930.

Fire Chief Joey Herren, left, breaks out glass on the east side of the home as an unidentified firefighter blows water into the main floor of the home on Avenue D in Fort Madison. Photo by Chuck Vandenberg/PCC

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