Supply drive for tenants of Kirk Apartments after massive fire

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(ABC 6 News) – Tenants of the historic Kirk Apartment building in Mason City lost everything in a fire Monday. Now, the community is working together to figure out what their next steps are, and how to move forward.

“Think about having a tough day at work, right? That’s something we’ve all had – a tough day at work. What do you want to do? You wanna go home. You wanna be in your home, in your space. And that’s not there for them right now,” said Jen Arends, the CEO of the United Way of North Central Iowa.

Thursday, the Mason City Salvation Army had clothes, food, toiletries and even furniture for Kirk tenants to help them recover.

“That’s the tough part right now is that we don’t have a lot of low-income housing stock. And getting people into comparable priced units has been difficult,” explained Arends.

Tenants had the option to speak with representatives from United Way, the Salvation Army, and Iowa Legal Aid. One attorney from legal aid says its important to make sure tenants know their rights after disasters like this.

“Pretty much you’re demanding your rental deposit, and the unused portion of your rent,” Diane Wilson, managing attorney at the Mason City branch of Iowa Legal Aid, explained.

People in town have asked about the lack of a sprinkler system in the building – something the Mason City Fire Department says isn’t necessarily unusual for buildings as old as Kirk.

Legal Aid says tenants will have to wait for the fire marshal to investigate the fire, before pursuing any civil suit over the missing sprinklers.

“Generally, whatever is destroyed inside of an apartment is the tenant’s responsibility, unless you’re going to prove some huge element of negligence on the landlord’s part,” Wilson said.

United Way of North Central Iowa is starting a Kirk Fire crisis fund with the goal of raising $40,000. Donations to the fund can be made here. United Way is also accepting large furniture donations at their warehouse at 2911 4th Street SE, Mason City, IA. Or, reach out to the Mason City Salvation Army about dropping off other donations.