Parking structure fire was arson

Multiple vehicles are destroyed in Iowa Central’s parking garage

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Several vehicles were destroyed by fire early Tuesday morning on the ground level of the Iowa Central Community College parking ramp. the burning cars left a heavy layer of black soot on the ceiling of the ramp. The incident remains under investigation.

Multiple cars were damaged or destroyed by a fire that was intentionally set in the parking garage of Iowa Central Community College early Tuesday morning

The cars were on the ground level of the garage.

According to the Fort Dodge Fire Department, no injuries were reported.

Firefighters were called to the college at 1 Triton Circle at 4:30 a.m. where fire crews found cars on fire in the parking structure, officials said.

Crews were able to extinguish the fire rather quickly, according to Fort Dodge Fire Chief Steve Hergenreter.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Soot from a multicar fire early Tuesday morning left a layer of soot on the outside of the Iowa Central Community College parking ramp.

Officials reported the cause of the blaze to be arson, but did not disclose what led them to that conclusion.

No arrests were made Tuesday.

Hergenreter said the parking structure itself was damaged.

“There’s extensive spalling of the concrete above the area where the cars were burning,” he said.

About a dozen cars sustained fire and smoke damage.

An investigation has been launched to determine the origin and possible cause.

A state fire marshal division special agent investigator arrived at about 7:30 a.m.

Iowa Central Community College campus security and investigators from the Fort Dodge Police Department were also on scene collecting evidence.

Firefighters remained on scene until about 2:30 p.m. to assist in the investigation.

About 10 firefighters were initially on scene, Hergenreter said. Six off-duty firefighters were called to assist.

The college has plans to replace the stairs and enclosures of the parking ramp.

Thoma Construction, of Manson was recently awarded a contract to complete the work. It submitted a low bid of $368,386.

The improvements are part of a $25.5 million bond that was passed in February.

Dan Kinney, Iowa Central Community College president, said that work has not yet begun.

“We are waiting for the steel steps to come in that they will be putting in,” Kinney said. “We are a couple weeks out from them even moving forward with that.”

He said the parking ramp will be temporarily closed.

“Right now we are getting all of our students who have vehicles out of there and it’s going to be shut down,” Kinney said.

Structural engineers and the college’s insurance adjusters are assessing the parking garage, he said.

Kinney said security cameras are in place throughout the campus and in the parking garage.

When asked what security measures the college has in place to prevent these types of incidents, Kinney said, “The cameras are No. 1. Our security is on campus. We work closely with Friendship Haven. Friendship Haven called it in. We work very closely with Friendship Haven and what they are doing. I believe the initial call was called through Friendship Haven security.”

Kinney said if a student of the college is found guilty of a crime, they would be subject to expulsion.

“If it was a student, they would go through our disciplinary procedures,” he said. “More than likely they could be expelled. It would go through our code of conduct at Iowa Central.”

Kinney credited the work of local agencies in their response.

“I greatly appreciate the work of the Fort Dodge Fire Department and Fort Dodge Police Department,” he said. “It really shows the working partnerships we have in Fort Dodge. It’s an unfortunate incident, but it shows how much we work together in Fort Dodge.”