Magnifying glass causes retirement community fire - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Magnifying glass causes retirement community fire

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Authorities say a fire at a retirement home started because of a magnifying glass.

Dozens of residents at Landmark Commons in Waterloo were evacuated because of a couch fire that started because of a magnifying glass and a newspaper.

Nobody was hurt, and firefighters say they've never seen anything quite like it.

Waterloo Battalion Chief Marty Freshwater has been involved with the fire department for 28 years, and he says it was quite strange.

"And, the sun rises in the east of course and came in the patio door and was magnified through that magnifying glass that was sitting by the window, and it started the newspaper on fire that was sitting on the couch," Freshwater said.

Battalion Chief Marty Freshwater says the sprinkler system worked wonderfully at Landmark Commons, and it had most of the fire contained by the time firefighters arrived.

"The sprinkler system had activated and had put a lot of it out before we got there. We just had spot fires to put out when we arrived," Freshwater said.

After investigating all possible scenarios, Battalion Chief Freshwater said there's no other way it could have started.

"There was no other ignition source in the area. He said he couldn't figure out what started it until we started putting pieces together and saw the angle of the sun coming through the window through the magnifying glass. It reminded me of stuff we did while you were a kid," Freshwater said.

The Battalion Chief said the fire didn't spread any further than the one apartment.

He said he took photos of the aftermath, but he won't release them until the insurance company investigates the claim.

According to the community's spokesperson, people in other wings of the retirement community didn't need to be evacuated, but they did anyway.

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