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Home Catches Fire for a Fifth Time

By Ellis Codjoe, September 22, 2017

Ottumwa Firefighters responded to their forty-second structure fire of the year Friday morning, and unfortunately they were very familiar with the home that caught fire.

For the fifth time this year, firefighters responded to 321 N. Washington Street in Ottumwa on reports that the placarded home was on fire.

When firefighters arrived at around 4:45 Monday morning they found the three-story structure with flames shooting from the rear of the home.

The fire quickly spread to a second structure on the same property. Both homes suffered extensive damage as a result of the fire.

“Officially, the cause is going to be undetermined,” Deputy Fire Chief Cory Benge told Ottumwa Radio News. Benge acknowledged that the fire was suspicious in nature but said that there was too much damage, combined with damage from previous fires, to determine the exact origin of Friday’s fire.

It’s common for firefighters to call in a few off duty firefighters to help battle a major structure fire, however, crews were forced to use a rare “all call” option, which calls in all firefighters regardless of their shift and on-call status.

“We had 39 guys from three different departments here helping,” Benge said.

Firefighters from the Agency Volunteer Fire Departments and the Wapello County Rural Fire Department also responded to a request for manpower.

The fire caused damage to a neighboring home, charring a 2nd story wooden balcony and staircase.

Benge reminded residents that a reward of up to $10,000 is being offered for information that leads to an arrest and successful prosecution of alleged arsonists.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Ottumwa Fire Department at 641-683-0667 Extension 4, or the Ottumwa Police Department at 641-683-0661.

Nobody was injured in Friday’s fire.

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