Possible cause of fatal Dubuque fire - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Possible cause of fatal Dubuque fire

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- New details from Friday evening's apartment building fire show a cigarette may have been to blame.

The blaze, which Dubuque fire chief Dan Brown said started around 7:30 p.m. in a second-floor room of the Washington Park Place apartment buildings, killed one person and displaced more than 30 others.

Saturday afternoon, residents of 605 Bluff Street waited to be escorted into the building to retrieve their basic belongings.

"We're really hoping that this will be contained and cleaned up and ready to go. Time frame, two to three days, Monday or Tuesday," 605 Bluff Street building project manager Aiman Al-Qady said.

Still, fragments of details leave tenants wondering exactly what caused the blaze.

"We're still working on that. We're still following down some leads, doing some interviews," Dubuque fire marshal Mark Ludescher said. "We don't have a good picture of a final thing yet...At this time, we're not ruling anything out."

Others said they have heard a different story.

"The gentleman, the deceased, had quite a few oxygen tanks in there, that we know of, and that's what we were told by the fire department," Al-Qady said, "which basically engulfed the flames and increased the intensity of the fire."

Al-Qady said the resident who died was a smoker, which he said officials told him may have been the cause.

He also said the tenant's health issues may have prevented him from escaping the flames.

"He was a very lovely man and we're deeply saddened," Al-Qady said.

He said smoke damage is the concern for most of the rooms, along with some water damage from firefighters' hoses.

The building is more than 120 years old, and Ludescher said its solid construction prevented the flames from spreading quickly.

The Red Cross and Project Concern are temporarily helping the displaced residents with housing.

Online Reporter: Becca Habegger

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