City condemns fire-damaged apartment building
Help being sought for remaining occupants
A fire-damaged apartment building in Fort Dodge that apparently has no electrical or gas service has been condemned by city officials, and the last remaining occupants were ordered to leave immediately.
Orange signs declaring the property at 2809 10th Ave. N. unfit for human occupancy were posted there Monday afternoon.
A notice of condemnation was also given to Becker Florists Inc. in Fort Dodge, which city officials say owns the building.
The building is part of the LaVista Apartments complex. It was severely damaged by a fire on the evening of Nov. 19 caused by a child playing with a lighter.
The fire started in a second-floor apartment in the building’s east side. The fire spread to the third floor. The Fire Department reported heavy fire damage on the second and third floors, with smoke and heat damage throughout the rest of the building.
City Manager David Fierke said electricity and gas service to the building have been shut off since the fire.
He said that just before Thanksgiving, city officials learned that there were people still living there. Contractors working to clean and repair the building told city inspectors that there were people living there, he added.
A cleaning contractor told a city inspector Monday that four of the apartments were occupied. There are 12 apartments in the building.
Stacey Rasmussen, the city’s neighborhood wellness coordinator, contacted the Fort Dodge Housing Agency, Webster County Health Department, Upper Des Moines Opportunity Inc., the United Way and the American Red Cross seeking help for the remaining occupants of the building.
A phone call to Bruce Becker, co-owner of Becker Florists Inc., was not returned Monday night.