Fire destroys Wildlife Viewing Blind at Mines of Spain - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Fire destroys Wildlife Viewing Blind at Mines of Spain

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

The Wildlife Viewing Blind at the Mines of Spain Recreation Area in Dubuque was destroyed by a fire Thursday evening. The Wildlife Viewing Blind was located at the Horseshoe Bluff Interpretive Area south of the Julien Dubuque Monument. The building was constructed in 1998 and was used by park visitors to view ducks, herons, turtles, and other wildlife on the wetland/pond area.

The viewing blind caught fire sometime between 5:00 pm and 7:30pm Thursday evening. The cause of the fire is not yet known. The fire was called in by a park visitor at 7:44pm to the Key West Fire Department. The structure was already destroyed when fire crews arrived on the scene.

Wayne Buchholtz is a park ranger at the Mines of Spain. He said this is the second fire to the Wildlife Viewing Blind.

"This had an intentional set fire about 4 years ago," Buchholtz said. "You could tell that somebody had poured stuff on the walls and the inside and started the fire. It was during the time of day or when people are out here and it was caught quick enough it was able to be put out."

Buchholtz said the building wasn't destroyed. He said after that fire a Boy Scout looking for an Eagle Scout project took on cleaning up the building.  

"He took that on and put a new roof on it, power washed it, and cleaned it. He had it in good shape." Buchholtz said.

Buchholtz said it's possible Thursday's fire was intentionally set.

"It really had to have been started by somebody. There is no electricity that goes to the building, there is no fire place in there. So whether it was arson, that somebody intentionally started it or whether they had a fire inside of it and they left it burn and it ended up getting the building caught on fire. We really just don't know." Buchholtz said Friday.

Buchholtz said he estimates the damage to the Wildlife Viewing Blind at $10,000. He said at this point he is unsure if the structure will be rebuilt.

"Right now the funding isn't there in the budget to do it. So we will have to discuss that and decided if we replace it, would it be back in the same position or do we move it somewhere else." Buchholtz said.

If you have any information in regards to the fire contact the Mines of Spain park office at 563-556-0620 or by email to the park ranger at wayne.Buchholtz@dnr.iowa.gov.

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