"Tragic" fire damages art gallery - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

"Tragic" fire damages art gallery

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A fire severely damaged a building that stood for more than 100 years.

This happened on East Main Street in Anamosa on Saturday.

Monday the damaged art gallery is boarded up, and fire crews are still investigating what started the fire.

People in Anamosa are calling this fire tragic, saying the damage ruined a staple in the town.

As smoke poured out of Thou Art Gallery, the only thing gallery owner KC Kiner Wortman could do is watch.

"Well this was my dream business, I've been an artist all my life," said Wortman. "I just was watching everything go up in smoke."

What was once a gallery holding thousands of art pieces is now charred and boarded up.

"When I looked in the windows and saw all the paintings and silk scarves...it's gone and it's tragic," said Wortman.

Wortman says the art gallery is destroyed and a neighboring business says they have some smoke damage. 

Grounds & Goodies owner Mary Oldham witnessed Thou Art Gallery burn.

"I think I was in shock, I went back in and rolled my cinnamon rolls up," said Oldham.

Before leaving her business she grabbed a few very important items.

"Right before I left the building the sheriff came in to get us and I was just getting a box for the cake because I didn't want it to smell like smoke and I wanted to get it out, so I did, I got that and money out of the register and left," said Oldham.

Oldham says she knows it was a silly move while a fire was spreading, but the cake was for a 9-year-old girl's birthday and it was important.

"It was frosted and it could have had stuff put on it, but yeah I wanted to save the cake of all things," said Oldham.

Two people were taken to the hospital because of smoke inhalation and extensive damage was done to the building.

Wortman says the man who escaped the burning building through a window is coming home from the hospital today, while the other victim is still in the hospital. 

Wortman says they plan on rebuilding.

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