CLEAN UP: Picking Up Debris & Future of Site

Clean up efforts have already begun in downtown Des Moines following the fire at the historic Younkers building. Hours after the fire was put out a plan to clean up the mess was already under way.

Sunday morning, public works crews got to work cleaning up the debris left behind.
Fire crews are also back to work.

Iowa Task Force One went inside the building to determine if it’s structurally sound.
The Des Moines Fire Chief also activated the national response for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The National ATF Team will lead the investigation.

“These are experts in all different fields from structural engineering, chemists, safety, fire investigators,” says Brian O’Keefe with the Des Moines Fire Department.

This is the first time the National ATF has been called in for a fire in Des Moines.

The 25 person team will provide more resources in determining the cause of the fire.

“They have people who will sift through all the materials and it`s really valuable for us,” says O’Keefe.

Although the building is a total loss, the future of the site is still bright.

“In terms of moving forward, we just have to rebuild,” says President and CEO of the Downtown Community Alliance Glenn Lyon.

Lyon says while it’s heartbreaking the 120 unit building is lost, he expects a new project to pop up.

“With a building boom on right now there will be a lot of interest on doing something on the site, I expect in the next year or so you`ll see a project emerge,” says Lyon.

The Younkers Redevelopment was just one of three dozen projects going on in the downtown area.

The $36-million project can be rebuilt, but it’s the loss of history associated with the Younkers Building that cannot be replaced.

‘This is a minor setback for downtown, it`s a major setback for those who treasure the Younkers Building,” says Lyon.

The Downtown Community Alliance and other companies are in the process of relocating because of the fire.

Many offices in the Partnership building, EMC, the Hub Tower and Kaleidoscope will be moving to vacant offices in Ruan II while the cleanup continues.

Many of those buildings have water and smoke damage.

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