New Hampton fire made more challenging in cold - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

New Hampton fire made more challenging in cold

NEW HAMPTON (KWWL)--Important court documents could be destroyed after the Chickasaw County Attorney's office went up in flames early Monday morning.  On top of the flames, fire crews dealt with bitter cold temperatures.  It was so cold, water from fire hoses froze up a few times while battling the blaze on Main Street in New Hampton.

Hours after the fire at the Chickasaw County Attorney's office was extinguished, what look like smoke could still be seen billowing from the windows Monday night.  But it was actually steam, created as water used to put out the blaze began evaporating amid a few hot spots.

"There's a lot of water in there and with the cold temperatures, it makes it look worse than it really is," said Steve Geerts, New Hampton Fire Department Chief.

The bitter cold made the difficult job of fighting the fire even more cumbersome.  Crews from every fire department in Chickasaw County along with the Charles City Fire Department, were on hand.  And no one could take a break for the first several hours.

"There wasn't a lot of flames showing on the outside of the building.  Primarily it was the inside that we were dealing with.  But my biggest concern was the structure of the building could collapse.  Obviously we've had 9 inches of snow, or whatever fell of the weekend, on top of the roof.  And we still have that concern in the building," Geerts said.

Once the fire was put out, crews could take quick breaks in a nearby business and the Chickasaw County mobile command center.  Now fire and police officials will be tasked with securing the scene.

It remains unclear just how many documents may have been lost from the fire inside the Chickasaw County Attorney's office.  The attorney himself and his assistant attorney didn't want to comment specifically on that for fear of jeopardizing criminal cases if that information was to be made public.  However, they have set up a temporary office over at the Chickasaw County Sheriff's Department and say they will be back in court when they're called upon.

The State Fire Marshall's office was on the scene of the fire for several hours Monday, trying to determine what started the blaze.  Their findings could be released as early as Tuesday.

KWWL Reporter:  Kera Mashek




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