Weekend Fire Caused ‘Minor Structural Damage’ to Equitable Building

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- The owner of the Equitable Building says after learning how much damage was done by the weekend fire, he expects to continue with the planned schedule of renovations to the building.

Shawn Foutch with Foutch Brothers says the century-old  building sustained minor structural damage to isolated sections of the flooring system of the third floor, but no structural damage has been seen anywhere else in the building.

Other damage to the building includes fire damage to an air conditioning unit, crawl spaces, and smoke damage.

Equitable Building Fire Photo Gallery

Environmental consultants, including the Iowa DNR, recommended access be closed to the building as a precaution in case the fire released any enclosed asbestos that is believed to exist in the crawl space. As of Tuesday, the Iowa DNR says they do believe some asbestos contamination occurred.

"What we've been able to determine so far is that floors one through three more than likely do have some sort of asbestos contamination," Kevin Baskins of the Iowa DNR said. "Right now, kind of the next big thing is to get test results back. We're expecting for those results to come back either tomorrow or Thursday."

Air contamination tests continue, but the planned winter start up on renovations is expected to start on schedule.

Five firefighters were injured battling the blaze. One remains in the hospital.