Des Moines fire crews responded to a call for a structure fire at the old Homemaker’s warehouse at NE 46th and NE Broadway in a little after 7 a.m. Wednesday.
However, when they got to the scene they found something different burning.
Crews found a small fire on the outside of the building near the back of the property.
District Fire Chief Joe Giudicessi says there was someone burning the insulation jacket off of copper wires.
He says the people responsible took off but left behind the copper which was turned over to fire investigators.
Fire crews respond to these types of fires several times throughout the year; however Wednesday morning's call took away valuable resources from the city.
“It takes away our resources because some people thought that was a structure on fire, which we send more fire equipment to a structure fire, then someone illegally burning leaves in their backyard, we send a lot less apparatus to that,” says Giudicessi.
Three fire engines, two ladder trucks, two medics, and a district chief responded to a fire that normally would only require one truck.
Scrap copper is selling for about $3 a pound, but the risk of obtaining the metal is extremely dangerous.
Just last week a special toll-free phone number was created to report copper thefts anonymously.
That number is 1-800-452-1111.
A reward of up to $1,000 could be claimed for information leading to an arrest.
Authorities want people to call if they see any suspicious activity near electric equipment such as a transformer or power pole or near a residence or business.