Fire crews work to put out hotspots at scene of Kirk Apartments fire
(ABC 6 News) – Wednesday, fire crews continued to put out hotspots at the scene of Monday’s fire at the Kirk Apartments in Mason City.
Smoke began to filter out of a second story window on Wednesday afternoon. Fire crews took to their hoses and poured water over the area where the smoke was coming from.
Mason City Fire Chief Erik Bullinger said, “it makes it dangerous in a building like this when you have collapsed pats or pancaked structures and sometimes the water can’t fully extinguish it. This is why we are continuously checking to make sure the fires are out and stay out.”
Fire fighters were called to the Kirk Apartments shortly after 1:30 p.m. Monday where the fire was contained to a lower unit apartment. Fire crews initially thought they had most of it out, but then the fire got in between two floors and began traveling throughout the building and into other units.
People in town have talked about the lack of a sprinkler system in a building like this. Bullinger says in a building this old, it’s not that surprising.
“Sprinklers were not enforced at the time. Now today if you were to build that same structure, you would have an entirely different looking structure. Sprinklers added in create a much safer environment for a multi-unit building such as this. And today they would be required a 100 percent,” explained Bullinger.
RELATED: Large fire heavily damages historic Kirk Apartments in Mason City
Because of the collapse caused from the fire and no sprinkler system, small fires are still happening in the building.
MCFD officials say that only buildings constructed after 1982 were mandated to have sprinkler systems per the city code. For buildings constructed before 1982, they were grandfathered in, and it was up to owners if they wanted to or not.
The Kirk Apartments contain 44 apartments with all considered a total loss, according to the Mason City Fire Department. There are concerns the building may collapse.
Ed Kent, the owner of Kirk apartments, declined to comment.
Former tenant Melody Allen was shocked.
“It’s 2023 now. I thought it was all updated on everything, fire extinguishers, sprinklers,” said Allen.
“It can be difficult to keep emotions in check sometimes. And I completely understand looking from the outside. Not realizing what’s happening inside a building,” Bullinger said.
Samantha Haugen, a resident of one of the apartments said, ““You never really think it’s going to happen to you.”
RELATED: Tenant describes evacuating the Kirk Apartments in Downtown Mason City
The United Way of North Central Iowa and other community agencies have setup a crisis fund to provide assistance to the tenants who were displaced in the fire.
RELATED: United Way launches crisis fund for Kirk Apartment fire tenants
ABC 6 News will continue to provide additional information when it becomes available.