FORT DODGE, Iowa — It took seven fire departments about eight hours to put out the flames in downtown Fort Dodge over the weekend.
Authorities are investigating an intentionally set fire at Ag Advantage, an advertising agency, located at 1029 N. 1st Ave. A police officer out on patrol first spotted the smoke coming out of the building around 1:45 PM.
“This is a set fire and now the next step is determining who set this fire,” says Fort Dodge Fire Chief Kent Hulett.
Authorities aren’t saying what tipped them off to the arson. Fort Dodge police say there is “sufficient evidence” that this wasn’t an accident and they are following up on leads.
“It was just smoke coming from everywhere,” says Priest Wilson.
Wilson just opened a barber shop two doors down from the fire. Saturday was his first day in business.
The fire caused an estimated $400,000 in damage. Part of the building and the roof collapsed and officials are concerned that the building unsafe.
“We need to get this down as soon as possible. It’s a public safety risk,” says Hulett.
If you were in the area Saturday morning into the early afternoon and saw anything, you’re asked to call Fort Dodge Police at (515) 573-1426. In addition to Crimestoppers, the state is offering a reward of up to $15,000 for information resulting in an arrest and conviction in this case. The State Fire Marshal’s Office is 1-800-532-1459.