The State Fire Marshal’s office continues to investigate a fire that destroyed two businesses and heavily damaged another in the northern Iowa town of Riceville. Firefighters were called to the blaze at 11 o’clock Friday night. They were on the scene through early Saturday afternoon. No one was injured. Riceville Fire Chief Lyle Eastman the fire started in the local meat locker and spread to a hardware store and a NAPA Auto Parts store.
"We were able to save the contents of the hardware store. The NAPA store had smoke and water damage and he was going to be open at 8 a.m. today," Eastman said. The locker is a complete loss and the hardware building will be knocked down. Eastman says it’s devastating for a small town to lose those kinds of businesses.
However, he does believe the owners of both businesses are planning to rebuild. The town of Riceville, which has about 850 residents, has been without a grocery store for several months – but that should be reopening before Thanksgiving under a new owner.
Eastman says Friday’s fire could there could have been even more damage had the Riceville firefighters not received help from eight neighboring departments. The cause of the fire remains under investigation, though Eastman says foul play is not a factor.