Three families homeless following fire, firefighters say situati - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Three families homeless following fire, firefighters say situation could have been worse


Three families are homeless after a fire ripped through the Tower Terrace Mobile Home Park in Hiawatha. Hiawatha Fire Chief Mike Nesslage says the fire started at one home and spread quickly because these mobile homes are so close together.

Four homes were burning before the fire department even arrived. They were all destroyed and the heat from the fire melted parts of two others, including Al Hendricks'.

"I could feel it coming through the door but the glass wasn't hot on the door yet," said Hendricks.

Other neighbors say the damage could have been a lot worse had the wind picked up overnight like it did just a few a few hours later.

"Anytime there's a high wind in a trailer park and there's a big fire it can be disastrous," Roger Cole, Hiawatha. 

Hiawatha firefighters did their best to stop the situation from getting any worse.

"The first plan of action is to try to stop the fire from spreading any farther," said Mike Nesslage, Hiawatha Fire Chief. "We tried to contain the fire to the three or four homes that were involved and just knocking the fire down and getting the bulk of the fire knocked down."

Thanks to the department's work the fire didn't spread any further but nine people, including five children, are now homeless.

"We're all right," said Hendricks. "They're not."

"It's still a tragic loss but we're happy that everybody got out alive," said Nesslage.

One of the homes was vacant. The Red Cross is helping families who lived in the other three homes. Three of the displaced kids are students at Hiawatha Elementary School.

The school is also helping that family out trying to keep a sense of normalcy in those kids' lives. The State Fire Marshal's Office and Hiawatha Fire Department are investigating the cause but say they may never know.

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