A house burned to the ground in Hiawatha Saturday afternoon. The fire was set intentionally by Eastern Iowa fire departments. They'd been using the house for training and the final lesson was to burn it down.
"We have used this house actually for several months," said Mike Nesslage, Hiawatha Fire Chief. "We've done everything from basic self-contained breathing apparatus, search and rescue training, crawling around in it, firefighter rescue training."
Fire crews say using an actual house to train in is the best way to learn.
"What we're doing is our final practice," said Nesslage. "This morning we did fires inside the house and went in and put them out. And we're just finishing it off and burning it down today.
The homes were donated by a developer.
"He wanted to get rid of those homes," said Nesslage. "He let us use them for training. We're going to burn it down to get it out of his way for him."
Many people came out to watch the fire including some people who used to live in the home.
"I had mixed feelings about coming over this morning," said Guy Ayeis-Berry, who used to live in home. "We've got good memories from living here. And we found it was more interesting to see how the fire develops than being sad about it. It just makes you appreciate how quickly the fire spreads. Within 30 minutes basically the whole house is engulfed."
Firefighters say watching the house burn can be a great lesson.
"I think it's a great experience for people when they watch a fire like this too see how quickly it grows, how fast the fire can get out of hand," said Nesslage. "It stresses a need for all those fire safety things we talk about, like smoke detectors and having exit plans."
Several fire departments were on hand to train and to help keep the fire under control as the house burned.