Iowa City street to reopen after fire heavily damaged construction site

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL) — The Iowa City Fire Department was on scene of a fire Tuesday afternoon in a building that’s under construction along Clinton and  Burlington Street.

A crane operator working when the fire started was rescued with no injuries.

At the scene Deputy Fire Chief, Eric Nurnberg said, “Of course that crane operator climbs up and down that ladder everyday, he’s very good at what he does. But we wanted to structurally assess that crane, as there was fire all over and ice on it. We just sent a rescue team up to help him down safely.”

According to the City of Iowa City,  transit riders can expect delays and detours. Plows were salting the areas where water was used to keep drivers safe and prevent ice.

Video courtesy of Jared VanSpeybroeck’s Youtube Channel: Cheap Shot

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Long

UPDATE: Burlington Street is expected to remain closed Wednesday, between Clinton and Dubuque St. while crews work to removed damaged portions of the building.

According to the Iowa City, City Manager the damaged portions of the building are expected to be removed by the end of Wednesday or early Thursday.

According to the Iowa City Fire Department a loss estimate is not yet available. The cause of the fire is still under investigation at this time.

Here’s a look at the scene today.

UPDATE: The fire started at a construction site at Hieronymus Square, near the intersection of East Burlington Street and South Clinton Street Tuesday afternoon. The investigation found that the fire started in a third-floor room on the north side of the building.

Fire Marshal Brian Greer says the room had a temporary 10′ by 10′ tent structure used as a warming area for combustible subfloor adhesives. The tent housed several cases of the adhesives and a liquid propane-fueled radiant heater. The heater was fueled by a liquid propane tank outside the tent.

The heater came in contact with the combustibles in the tent and started a fire.

Flames grew and the liquid propane tank started to vent, providing more fuel until it exploded. Strong winds then carried through the structure rapidly.

It is estimated that the initial loss is $1,000,000. The investigation is ongoing at this time.

Authorities say that at this time the 100 Block of Burlington Street is expected to remain closed into Saturday.

They say the damaged construction project is currently being torn down, and the immediate site is being cleared. Reopening the block is dependent upon upcoming weather conditions.

Traffic will be detoured onto Dubuque, Court and Clinton while the block is closed. All other streets will remain open in the Downtown area.

Today, crews were taking down the damaged third and fourth floors.

The Vice President of Hodge Construction, Kevin Digmann, who’s developing the site told KWWL, “The first two levels are concrete so I don’t think we’ll have to do anything with those other than clean the suttee and whatever off of it but hopefully the structure will be OK and we don’t have to do anything other than the top 2 floors.”

Digmann said at this time be believes the project to be delayed by at least 30 days.

The city had agreed to provide $8 million in tax incentives as long as the project met certain deadlines. The city said there’s no word yet on how the timeline has been affected.

Burlington Street will continue to be closed between Clinton and Dubuque Street until Saturday, according to a press release from the city.


The 100 block of East Burlington St. in Iowa City will be closed into Sunday.

The fire-damaged construction project is being torn down. City officials tell us reopening the block depends on the weather.

UPDATE: The 100 Block of Burlington Street is now expected to reopen Tuesday. Police say this will have an impact on commutes throughout Downtown.

Madelyne Rosenberg

Madelyne Rosenberg

Social Media & Digital Content Manager
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