44 people displaced after historic apartment fire in Mason City

44 people displaced after historic apartment fire in Mason City.
Published: Apr. 25, 2023 at 3:27 PM CDT
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MASON CITY, Iowa (KTTC) – The Salvation Army in Mason City is working with the Red Cross to assist displaced residents after a historic apartment fire in Mason City on Monday.

According to the Salvation Army, 44 adult residents are now without a home. Seven or eight of those residents are currently staying in a shelter that has been set up in the gymnasium at the Salvation Army.

“When there’s something special like this, we are in need because it goes above our normal operating budget so when we have this kind of need, we do look for the folks in the area to help us. We don’t need the money; the folks need the money, and we want to take care of them the best way we know how,” Salvation Army major Geffory Crowell explained.

The Kirk Apartment building was built in 1896 and Mason City police have called this a historic event.

According to Mason City Fire Department (MCFD), at around 2:15 p.m. it was dispatched for the report of a structure fire at the apartments located at 206 North Federal Ave.

Fire crews arrived to find smoke coming from the building and performed search and rescue operations throughout the structure to ensure all residents had successfully escaped.

“I came back, I said what happened, what happened? Everything was fine a minute ago and then they said the fire broke out in the crawl spaces in the ceilings, so they had it contained for a while, but the crawl spaces in the ceilings are what caught the fire,” apartment resident Samantha Haugen said.

During interior operations, fire conditions rapidly worsened as the fire spread throughout the building between floor and ceiling spaces. Fire crews were forced to exit the building and continue fighting the fire from the outside.

Fire crews continued to battle the blaze in heavy smoke conditions until about 9 p.m. Firefighters remained on scene overnight to extinguish smaller areas of fire, while maintaining a safe perimeter for bystanders due to the potential for building collapse.

MCFD said a working fire alarm system alerted occupants throughout the 3 story, 44-unit apartment complex, giving enough warning for residents to escape. The building did not have a sprinkler system installed on any of the apartment floors.

Clear Lake Fire Department, Rockwell Fire Department, and Northwood Fire Department also assisted on scene. Multiple agencies provided aid and support to the Mason City Fire Department, including Mason City Police Department, City Operations & Maintenance personnel, Alliant Gas & Electric, Consolidated Fuel, A-1 Portables, Lake Towing, Cerro Gordo County Emergency Management Agency, Community Emergency Response Team members, Salvation Army, and Red Cross.

Investigators from the Iowa State Fire Marshal’s Division assisted with the fire investigation, which is ongoing at this time.

The building is considered a complete loss.

As the structural integrity of this building is uncertain at this time, a safe perimeter has been established, and residents are being reminded that debris may fall in this area unexpectantly.

A map below shows current road closures. Barricades for streets as well as sidewalks are in place, and updates will be given as changes are made.

Road closures in Mason City due to apartment fire
Road closures in Mason City due to apartment fire(MCFD)

Donations are being accepted to help everyone impacted.

Clothing, shoes, and personal hygiene products are all needed. The Salvation Army is also excepting cash donations.

You can bring donations to the Salvation Army from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The Salvation Army is located at 747 Village Green Drive in Mason City.

44 people displaced after historic apartment fire in Mason City.