Investigators: Cedar Rapids plant fire likely suspicious - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Investigators: Cedar Rapids plant fire likely suspicious

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) - Firefighters were called to a structure fire on Third Street Southeast around 6:15 a.m. Tuesday morning.

According to Greg Buelow with the Cedar Rapids Fire Department, the building, formerly Farmstead Foods is currently being used for storage by Linn-Star Transfer. The building houses cardboard boxes.

When  firefighters arrived they saw heavy, black smoke was coming from a large warehouse on the Sinclair site at 1600 3rd Street SE. 

Buelow said that crews were able to knock down several fires on the first floor of the building but the fire then quickly spread to the second floor and floors above.

Crews are attacking the fire defensively from the outside with fire trucks, hoses and ladders.

Buelow said that the fire is likely suspicious because the building is abandoned and has no working power sources.

At this point, the fire is being contained to the building involved.  Due to the hazardous conditions inside the structure, firefighters will be controlling and extinguishing the fire from the outside. 

There have been approximately 30 firefighters who have responded to the incident.  The Fire Department will be rotating staff throughout the day to continue to control and contain the fire to the building involved.

According to The National Czeck & Slovak Museum & Library, the building is the original T.M. Sinclair Packing Company later known as Wilson and then Farmstead Foods.

T.M. Sinclair was a major employer of the Czech immigrants in the 1800s.

Farmstead Foods closed the plant in 1990.

The city of Cedar Rapids bought the building and 30 acres of land in 1996 for $4 million.

We have a crew on the scene and will update this developing story as details become available.

There are no properties outside of the Sinclair property in danger at this time.  There have been no injuries reported.

The cause of the fire is considered suspicious based on the fact that the property was vacant and there was no electricity or utilities.  The investigation will be on-going.

Online News Director Nate Leding

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