March 1, 2015

Second person in Atlantic fire dies

Two people died in this fire in Atlantic.

Two people died in this fire in Atlantic Wednesday.

Atlantic Fire Chief Mark McNees has released the names of the victims of Wednesday night’s explosion and fire.

McNees said 57-year old Paul McDaniel, of Atlantic, died at the scene of the fire at 604 Olive Street. His wife, 57-year old Denise McDaniel, died this morning at a hospital in Omaha.

Earlier, McNees said a broken gas line caused the explosion and fire that happened just after 10 p.m. Denise McDaniel was found in a room upstairs. She was unresponsive and underwent CPR before being transported to the hospital in Atlantic and later flown to Omaha. Paul McDaniel was found deceased in the second floor bathroom.

Neighbors told McNees they heard a loud “boom” prior to noticing the flames. Investigators with the state Fire Marshal’s Office and Chief McNees used that information and spent the night combing through the home trying to determine the cause. They discovered a natural gas pipe in the basement broke due to the weight of clothes on hangers being hung on the pipe. The ignition source of the explosion is not known, but since a kitchen stove on the first floor is directly above the pipe in the basement, it’s believed the stove may have sparked the explosion.

By Ric Hanson, KJAN, Atlantic

One dead, one critically injured in Atlantic explosion and fire


Firefighters say a gas line broke at this Atlantic home, causing an explosion and fire.

A broken natural gas line is being blamed for an explosion and fire in the southwest Iowa town of Atlantic that killed one person and critically injured another. Firefighters were called to the house just after ten o’clock last night and Atlantic Fire Chief Mark McNees says they found the structure engulfed in flames.

They knew people were trapped and launched an immediate search. “We were able to get inside as we continued to fight the fire at the same time and did find the female victim upstairs and brought her down,” Chief McNees says. “She was unresponsive. We began CPR and medivac took over and took her to the hospital. We made another search attack and found the second, male victim.”

The man died. The woman was listed in critical condition at an Omaha hospital. No names were released Neighbors report hearing a loud “boom” prior to seeing the flames. Investigators with the state Fire Marshal’s Office used that information and spent the night combing through the home trying to determine the cause.


One person died and one was critically injured in a fire at this home in Atlantic.

“A natural gas pipe in the basement broke,” McNees says. “It had a large amount of hangers and clothing hanging from it. It appears that when it broke, then, right above it was the kitchen with a gas stove above and we’re believing that was most likely the ignition source.”

McNees said this type of explosion and fire is very unusual. “It must have been a fairly low explosive range, just from the area it happened in and the house, it appears it concentrated very quickly,” he says. “It had the fairly immediate explosion as opposed to the ones that fill the entire house and then it blows it totally apart. A very sad situation.”

The house was both a residence and a business from which was operated Denise’s Taxi Service. Both of the victims were residents of the home. When firefighters arrived, the temperature was around one-degree above zero. By the time they left around 3:20 A.M., the temp was down to 11-below.

(Story and photos by Ric Hanson, KJAN, Atlantic)


Woolstock teen dies in Webster City accident

An 18-year-old from Woolstock was killed last night in a one-vehicle accident in Webster City. The Iowa State Patrol identified the victim as Jordan M. Leeper.

The Patrol says a northbound 2003 GMC Envoy driven by Leeper, went out of control. The SUV left the roadway, hitting an area of wooden posts that were along the road, causing the vehicle to roll over and drop down an 18-foot embankment.

Leeper was pronounced dead at the accident scene. Grief counselors and pastors are at the Webster City schools today providing counseling for students. Leeper was a junior at Webster City High School.

(Reporting by Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)


Sioux City man completes top endurance challenge

Jason Davis

Jason Davis

A northwest Iowa resident has completed what’s considered one of the world’s toughest endurance challenges. Jason Davis, a Sioux City firefighter, competed in the Arrowhead Ultra Marathon in International Falls, Minnesota last week. He covered 135 miles on foot while pulling a 33 pound sled carrying his gear in frigid conditions.

In addition to the physical wear on his body, Davis said sleep deprivation was a significant challenge over the two-and-a-half days he was on the course. “You are going to sleep at some point during the race,” Davis said. “So, trying to find those points of where you’re going to sleep, how you’re going to do it, how long you’re going to do it — those were some of the biggest things I had issues with.”

The 40-year-old Davis set up a tent and took a few short naps along the route. There were also three checkpoints for participants to regroup and rest. “At the middle checkpoint, which was mile 72, I did sleep and change. I took three hours at that checkpoint just because my body was really depleted,” Davis said. This was Davis’ second attempt at completing Arrowhead. Last year, he made it to mile 40 before pulling out in 40-below zero conditions.

This year, he finished the course in just under 53.5 hours. Just over 110 miles into the race, Davis had quite a scare as he ran through the northern Minnesota woods. “I came around a corner and there was a wolf feeding on a deer carcass. Besides all the physical and mental challenges of the race, that was something that kind of spooked (me),” Davis said. “I sped up as fast as my body would take me at the time.”

Davis finished 24th overall — with 44 out of 77 entrants making it to the finish line. Davis hopes to one day compete in the Alaska Iditarod race through that state’s wilderness.

Story by Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, Sioux City/Photo courtesy of Jason Davis.


Lake Delhi getting closer to a refill

Lake Delhi dam breach (courtesy Iowa State Patrol)

Lake Delhi dam breach (courtesy Iowa State Patrol)

The board overseeing Lake Delhi in eastern Iowa opened bids Thursday for the final phase of the project to restore the lake.

Flood waters from the Maquoketa River caused the dike beside the dam to collapse in July of 2010 and all the water drained out of the lake, leaving the homeowners and businesses in the resort area high and dry.

The final piece of the $16 million project to rebuild the dam and spillway is expected to be completed by October 23rd. The will allow the lake to fill back up and trustee president, Steve Leonard, envisions water skiing and other activities could be back to normal. “Probably better than normal. There is so much reconstruction. We’re going to have a new boat ramp, a new beach area, a new area for fishing, a new area for enhanced parking and recreational benefits to our entire community in addition to the lake being restored,” Leonard says.

The state is paying $5 million of the rebuilding costs, Delaware County 3 million, and the rest is coming from Lake Delhi residents.


Stacyville chief called to fight a fire at his boyhood home

Imagine being a firefighter and being dispatched to fight a fire at an address that’s all-too familiar. It happened this week to a north-central Iowa fire chief after flames struck the house where he grew up.

Stacyville firefighters were called shortly after 11:00 A.M. on Thursday to the home of Joan Adams. She’s the mother of Stacyville’s fire chief Jay Adams. When the chief arrived at the scene, he found the house was fully engulfed in flames.

Joan Adams had lived in the house for 59 years, raising six children. Four of Joan’s grandsons, who are also with the Stacyville Fire Department, assisted at the scene. Nobody was injured in the fire, with the house being declared as a total loss.

(Reporting by Bob Fisher, KRIB, Mason City)


Missouri prosecutor reportedly taking another look at Iowa man’s drowning

Brandon Ellingson

Brandon Ellingson

The case of a Clive, Iowa man who drowned while in the custody of Missouri troopers is getting another look from a special prosecutor.

The special prosecutor that four months ago said she wouldn’t charge a Highway Patrol trooper in the drowning of an Iowa man while in that trooper’s custody now says she is reviewing the case after getting new information.

The Kansas City Star reports Amanda Grellner has had witnesses re-interviewed in recent weeks, including a couple who saw Brandon Ellingson in the water on the Lake of the Ozarks minutes before he drowned. She won’t comment about what is being reviewed or specifics of the investigation.

Brandon Ellingson died May 31 after falling out of a Patrol boat while handcuffed and after the lifejacket that had been improperly placed on him, slid off.