Predawn fire ravages ‘Ottawa Truck’ building

By Doug Carder and Clinton Dick
Ottawa Herald – January 22, 2015
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – January 28, 2015

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The cause of a non-injury fire early Wednesday morning that damaged a 20,000-square-foot storage building at Kalmar Ottawa, also known as Ottawa Truck, is undetermined, but was not suspicious in nature, Jeff Carner, Ottawa Fire Chief, said.

The fire broke out at 3:20 a.m. Wednesday, with flames soon towering above the unoccupied building in the predawn darkness. It took 17 Ottawa firefighters less than an hour to bring the fire under control, Carner said. The fire did not spread to other facilities in the area, and no firefighters were injured battling the blaze, the chief said.

The building, which was being prepared for demolition, appeared to have been used for overflow storage at the northwest corner of the facilities complex at Kalmar Ottawa, 415 E. Dundee St., Ottawa, Carner said.

“There was a tractor, some skid steers, lifts and 15 or 20 large diesel engines,” Carner said Wednesday afternoon of his earlier observations at the scene. “We’ve asked for a complete inventory. We haven’t received it yet, so we don’t have a damage estimate at this time. But it did appear most of the contents in fact were saved.

“The building had a lot of different uses over the years, but from our observations it looked like most recently it was primarily being used for overflow storage,” Carner said.

Kalmar Ottawa officials did not return calls for comment Wednesday.

“Utilities had already been disconnected and contractors had already been on scene making some initial preparations for the demolition,” Carner said.

Because the building was being used for overflow storage and soon was to be demolished, Carner said he doubted that Wednesday’s fire caused much of a disruption to the company’s operations.

About 50 percent of the structure was damaged, Carner estimated.

“The fire was originally reported by a passerby observing while going over the overpass,” Carner said. “Initial arrival indicated that the bulk of the fire was in the northeast portion of the building.”

Fire investigators cleared the scene about 8:51 a.m. Wednesday, he said.

Ottawa was the only fire department on the scene, but the agency requested assistance from Lincoln-Ottawa-Harrison Fire Department to send an engine and some personnel to staff Ottawa’s fire station in the event another call came in while Ottawa firefighters were battling the Kalmar fire, Carner said.

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