UPDATE: Four displaced in Epworth house fire - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UPDATE: Four displaced in Epworth house fire

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A fire destroyed a home in Epworth on Tuesday morning. (Brad Hanson, KWWL) A fire destroyed a home in Epworth on Tuesday morning. (Brad Hanson, KWWL)
A fire destroyed a home in Epworth on Tuesday morning. (Courtesy KWWL viewer Patti McDermott) A fire destroyed a home in Epworth on Tuesday morning. (Courtesy KWWL viewer Patti McDermott)

No more than 12 hours after a fire destroyed a seminary owned house in Epworth, students and school leadership are looking at their options for what's next.

As we've previously reported, two fires hit the house owned by Divine Word College in Epworth in the matter of 13 hours.  Epworth Fire Chief Thomas Berger said it was most likely a circuit damaged in the first fire that caused the second fire to start.

Father Tim Lenchak, President of the college, said three students and a formator--a house mom, of sorts--were living in the house.  They had been moved to other housing after the first fire, and were not injured due to either one.

But they did lose a majority of their possessions, Lenchak said. 

One of the biggest concerns for the students was the status of documents pertaining to their student visa's.  Lenchak said they are all from other countries, and will have a very hard time renewing that paperwork if it was destroyed.

Officials with the college say they lost computers, and most of their possessions sustained heavy water or smoke damage.

The college has started a fund to help replace things lost in the fire.  If you're interested in giving, you can email sandy.wilgenbusch@dwci.edu or call 563-876-3353.



An Epworth house fire that reignited Tuesday morning and destroyed the home was likely caused by power being restored to the house after firefighters had it shut off.

According to Thomas Berger, Epworth Fire Chief, the fire at 112 1st St. SW began in the attic due to an overloaded electrical circuit.

Once the fire was extinguished, power was restored to the home except to the overloaded circuit that caused the initial fire, Berger said Tuesday.

The fire reignited, likely due to an adjacent electrical circuit that sustained damage during the initial fire, according to Berger.

A total of 28 Epworth firefighters responded to the call, and officials remained on scene monitoring flare-ups through Tuesday morning.

The Dubuque County Sheriff's Office and Alliant Energy assisted at the scene.



A fire destroyed a home owned by Divine Word Seminary early Tuesday morning.

Firefighters were first called to the house at 112 1st Street SW in Epworth around 11:30 a.m. Monday, authorities said.

They were able to contain the fire to the attic, where the fire had damaged wiring in the ceiling area.

The power was shut off and the building's occupants were moved to different locations, authorities said.

According to a press release from the Dubuque County Sheriff's Office, firefighters were then called back to the house at about 1 a.m. Tuesday.

This time the house was engulfed in flames, and authorities say it was a total loss. They said the damage was about $150,000.

No one was inside the building at the time of the fire. No one was hurt.

Brad Hanson and Amie Steffeneicher contributed to this report.

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