Not that anyone really cares, but it was ten years ago today…on a Saturday, too…when our downtown area was hit by a huge fire that destroyed a fairly large portion of one of the downtown blocks. The fire burned too intensely and the damage was too great for them to ever determine a cause, but they suspected it started in the heating system. It smoldered for a good week afterwards, just like the Spahn & Rose Lumberyard fire on Christmas Eve of 1983, another biggie fire.
For point of reference, the picture on the top was taken from the front of the building I lived in, so the fire was only about a block from where our building was at. The fire broke out early in the morning, like around five or so, and they didn’t get it put out until late that night, fighting it in below-zero windchills. If you look close in the one picture that was taken from the front of the building, there’s actually two aerial trucks fighting, the one truck is in the far right corner of the pic, mostly hidden by the tree but if you look you can see part of the ladder and the water stream. The picture that is taken at the back of the building with the fire truck in the lot, you can just barely see the orange glow of the flames beneath the smoke and from where I was standing at, you could hear the roar and crackle of the flames. They wound up bringing a steam shovel in to knock the back of the building down to gain better access to the flames..have some pics of that but they’re not very good. The five departments that provided additional manpower and trucks to cover the rest of the city were Cedar Rapids, Hiawatha, Robins, Springville, and Mount Vernon, while Central City was on standby.
As you can guess, this was pretty big news in our area, and as you can also guess, I am one of those weird people who takes pictures of disasters. The antique mall and the pharmacy were rebuilt and still are in operation today.