It’s arson: Empty house torched again

Hergenreter: Intentionally-set fire is second at that Fort Dodge location in four months

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari Fort Dodge Firefighters meet outside the home at 854 N. 24th St. as a fire in the basement is extinguished Thursday. That fire was the second time in four months at that house that was intentionally set, Fire Chief Steve Hergenreter said.

A Fort Dodge house that was burned by an intentionally-set fire in November has been hit once again by arson.

The fire at 854 N. 24th St. was reported shortly before 8 a.m. Thursday.

Fort Dodge Fire Chief Steve Hergenreter said a Fort Dodge Public Works Department crew was driving past the house when they noticed smoke coming out of it.

The crew called 911 and reported the fire.

“When firefighters arrived on scene, they found a fire in the basement,” Hergenreter said.

The investigation determined that the fire had been intentionally set.

“It is obviously vacant. There are no utilities,” the chief said. “This was a fire set with materials in the basement.”

The home is owned by Janice Bowers, according to Webster County’s online records, which also said the house was built in 1954.

This wasn’t the first time that house had been burned by arson.

Previously, on Nov. 27, 2017, a fire was reported around 6:45 a.m. at the home, which was unoccupied.

That fire destroyed the roof of the home.

Hergenreter said that investigation determined that it was also an arson.

He added that investigation is still ongoing, and no arrests have been made in that case.

Both the Fort Dodge Fire Department and Fort Dodge Police Department are investigating Thursday’s fire.

Hergenreter asked for the public’s assistance in solving the case.

“If there was anybody in that area at the time of that incident — 7:30ish, 8:00 — that noticed anybody in that area to contact the Fort Dodge Police Department,” he said. “If someone intentionally set it they had to have been in that area probably in that timeframe.”

Those with information should call the Fort Dodge Police Department at 573-1426 or Webster County Crime Stoppers at 573-1444. Tips can also be sent anonymously online at or by texting “LEC” and the tip to 274637.