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Pipe organ factory reduced to rubble

Malfunctioning fan started massive blaze

-Messenger photo by Darcy Dougherty Maulsby
Lake City firefighters direct a hose stream onto flames that flared up in the rubble of the Dobson Pipe Organ Builders Ltd. factory Wednesday afternoon. The building was destroyed by a blaze that broke out late Tuesday afternoon and burned into the overnight hours.

LAKE CITY — The Dobson Pipe Organ Builders Ltd. plant that produced organs used throughout the continental United States was reduced to a smoldering heap of rubble following a massive fire on Tuesday that flared up again on Wednesday.

Lake City Fire Chief Lynn Boyd said he expected the wreckage to smolder for a couple of days.

”We brought in an excavator,” he said Wednesday evening. ”All of the building is now pushed down into a hole.”

The blaze started when a malfunctioning fan ignited some sawdust, according to the State Fire Marshal’s Office.

Boyd said it started in the northeast corner of the building.

-Messenger photo by Darcy Dougherty Maulsby
Nearly 24 hours after the devastating fire broke out at Dobson Pipe Organ Builders Ltd. in Lake City, pockets of fire were still flaring up in the rubble Wednesday afternoon.

He said an employee who discovered the blaze tried to put it out with a fire extinguisher. The man suffered burns on both arms while trying to do that. He was initially treated at a local hospital and was released. Boyd said he believes the man will be getting additional care, possibly at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

The fire was reported after 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Boyd said conditions were ”incredibly hot” when firefighters arrived at the scene. He said the part of the building along North Main Street was fully engulfed in flames.

”It basically at that point was just spray water and prevent it from destroying anything else,” he said.

There had been a leak in the Lake City water system earlier Tuesday, so additional water was brought into the scene in tanker trucks.

While many firefighters were able to leave the scene at about 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, a handful of Lake City firefighters stayed there overnight.

Some of the rubble began burning again early Wednesday afternoon.

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