Large fire heavily damages historic Kirk Apartments in Mason City

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(ABC 6 News) – UPDATE: According to the Mason City Fire Department, the Kirk Apartment building is considered a total loss after a fire Monday.

The building did not have a sprinkler system installed on any of its three floors, according to the MCFD.

The streets and alleys surrounding the building remain blocked off, as the structural integrity of the building is uncertain.

MCFD warned residents that debris may fall from the building unexpectedly.

(ABC 6 News) — Part of downtown Mason City is closed off after a fire destroyed the historic Kirk Apartments on Monday.

The building is located at 206 North Federal Avenue which is part of Mason City’s historic district downtown. Barricades are placed on North Federal Avenue to keep people safe at a distance.

The Mason City Police Department said streets and alleys around the apartments will be closed while the structure is assessed. This includes 2nd St. between Enterprise Alley and Commercial Alley and N. Federal Ave. between 2nd St. and 3rd St. Also, the Suzie Q Cafe located on the corner of 2nd St. and Enterprise Alley is closed on Tuesday.

According to the Mason City Fire Chief Erik Bullinger, fire fighters were called to the building 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.

As of 9:30 p.m. Monday, fire fighters considered the fire to be “mostly out” but planned to keep two trucks pouring water onto the fire into the overnight hours. Fire fighters will remain on the scene into the morning Tuesday to continue monitoring the situation. Huge plumes of smoke could be seen pouring from the building even after the flames were no longer visible.

Still unclear how the fire started, Chief Bullinger says the extent of the damage will make the investigation difficult. He hopes there will be some witnesses who can provide some information.

The owner is a man named Ed Kent. He provided some comments to the Globe Gazette unhappy with the fire departments response saying they were “screwing around.”

Chief Bullinger responded to that in an interview with KGLO AM 1300 saying, “It can be really difficult for people to understand what’s going on. It is disturbing and bothersome for someone to  lose something, especially a big beautiful building like this. Emotions get high. I understand.”

Mason City called in extra help from nearby communities including Rockwell and Clear Lake.

According to multiple apartment listings – the Kirk Apartments contain 44 apartments.

Documents from the federal government state that the apartments were built in 1903 by Mason City Businessman Horace P. Kirk, and was the first luxury apartment building in the city. The complex originally had its own self-sustained steam generating plant which provided the buildings heat, water, and lights. It was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982 – noted for its 19th century architecture similar to buildings of the time in western Europe.