Fire destroys cars, garage

CLINTON OLSASKY, Executive Editor | [email protected]

Immense streams of black smoke filled the sky this past Saturday night, attracting crowds of onlookers to a garage fire a few blocks east of UNI’s campus.

The fire engulfed a two-stall unattached garage at the address of 2604 Iowa Street. The Cedar Falls Fire Department was able to contain the blaze, preventing it from spreading to the house on the property.

Nobody was hurt. However, the two vehicles parked in the driveway were severely damaged.

“In my estimation, the two vehicles […] are a total loss,” said Jeff Olson, Director of Public Safety Services and Chief of Police for the city of Cedar Falls. “They were just outside, in front of the garage doors.”

According to Olson, the emergency call came in at 6:57 p.m., at which the point the Cedar Falls Fire Department arrived at the site of the fire within a few minutes.

Erin Morgan, senior public relations major at UNI, was the one who called in the fire.

Morgan said she and junior public relations major Brady Reeves saw the fire soon after the garage caught flame as they were dropping Morgan’s roommate off at her house, located a block away.

“Initially, we were just headed back to our place when the hotness came that way,” Reeves said. “And I noticed some large plumes of black smoke, and I was like, ‘We should probably go check that out.’”

“It was just billowing with black smoke,” Morgan said. “So, we came towards it, and we saw a large fire and immediately saw that there were no emergency responders or anything like that. So, I called it in — I called the fire department.”

Morgan said that while she was on the phone with the 911 operator, she saw the residents of 2604 Iowa Street exit the house.

“The garage belongs to the people in that white house right there, and as we pulled up, they were running out of the house,” Morgan said. “I was on the phone with 911. They asked me what the address was, and the girl said it was her house.”

According to Olson, while the fire didn’t go beyond the garage and two vehicles, there was some damage to the house due to the intense heat.

“It was a pretty large fire,” Olson said. “The heat melted some of the siding on the house on the back side of the house. Those fires create a lot of heat, and that’s not uncommon to see damage to surrounding property.”

Olson said that despite the magnitude of the fire, it didn’t take long to extinguish most of the blaze. However, that didn’t mean that the Cedar Falls Fire Department’s work was done for the night.

“You’ll see them now looking for what you might call hot spots — when you’ve got a pile of debris on the ground,” Olson said. “They’ve got to move that debris around to make sure they get water because there could be things underneath that are hot and if you leave, it could reignite.”

As for what caused the fire, Olson said there’s no way of knowing yet due to the significant damage sustained by the garage, which was completely destroyed.

“From my understanding, that garage did have electricity to it, so you want to think about that,” Olson said. “We’ll take a look. Sometimes you can figure it out, but sometimes you can’t. It’s just too early to say. There is a significant amount of damage to that garage. So, that is going to make it more difficult.”