Dubuque house destroyed after meth-related fire to be demolished - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque house destroyed after meth-related fire to be demolished

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

A Dubuque house destroyed after a meth-related fire is finally coming down. The fire happened in the early morning of February 20 in the 1000 block of White Street in Dubuque to a five-unit row house.

Two Dubuque men have pleaded guilty to a federal methamphetamine charge related to the fire. John Starks Sr., 46, and Casey Duhme, 24, were each convicted of conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine near a school.

The two pleaded guilty in federal court in Cedar Rapids on June 25 and 26 as part of a plea agreement.

According to a release from the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Northern District of Iowa, both men admitted they agreed with others to manufacture methamphetamine from Feb. 16 through Feb. 20.

Starks and Duhme both admitted they'd obtained pseudoephedrine during that time. Starks also admitted he purchased lye. Both substances were intended for use in the meth-making process.

The two were making the meth in the Dubuque apartment building where Starks lived, in the 1000 block of White Street, at the intersection of White and East 11th Streets.

The apartment housed multiple families and was located across East 11th Street from Prescott Elementary School.

The attempt to make meth caused a fire to break out in the upstairs bathroom of Starks' apartment during the early morning hours of Feb. 20. As a result, Starks received significant burns on his hands.

Within a few minutes of the fire starting, Starks, Duhme and a third person fled the apartment. They did not call 911 or alert anybody about the fire.

Several minutes later, a police officer doing routine patrol noticed smoke coming from the apartment building and evacuated the residents. The building's roof collapsed shortly after the evacuation.

The building is no longer usable.

Jeff Jaeger and his family own the destroyed building Jaeger said crews have begun clearing out the building so it can be torn down in just a couple of months.

"I hate to see it go. It housed five families. They have been with us for some years. It's just...Everyone loses in this situation," said Jaeger.

Dubuque Drug Task Force officer, Srg. Gary Pape, said once the Drug Task Force is done investigation a building after a meth-related fire. The building and cleanup is then turned over to the homeowner.

The homeowner is then responsible for making the home inhabitable or demolishing the building. Srg. Gary Pape said he recommends homeowners rip up carpet, wipe down walls, and have major work done to their homes heating and cooling system to make sure any residue is gone.

Jeff Jaeger said the building couldn't be demolished after the fire because it is of historic value. He said it's a part of Dubuque's Downtown Historic District and he needed to have all work ok'd through the Dubuque Historical Society.

He said through discussions the City of Dubuque and Dubuque Historical Society agreed it was best for Jaeger to tear down the building.

"The cost to repair it and the damage caused by the fire, it was just best to bring it down for safety reasons," said Jaeger.

Jaeger said he expects the building will be demolished in the next couple of months. He said he is not sure if his family will rebuild on the lot.

Becca Habegger contributed to this story.

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