A 100-plus year old building narrowly missed going up in flames this morning in southeast Iowa. Officials say damage to the State Theater in downtown Washington could’ve been worse if not for a little luck. The fire department is less than a block away from the theater and the fire was spotted very early.
As a result, theater manager Dick Sheperd says the majority of the damage was contained to a third floor projection room where the fire started. “It was able to be contained to the booth, so the damage…is no where near as bad as it could have been,” Sheperd said. “We were really very lucky, I think.”
Investigators say a cigarette discarded in a trash can started the fire. No one was injured. The building is not on the state or National Historic Register, but it dates back to 1893. It’s used primarily as an opera house and theater. Sheperd says he thinks the damage is repairable, depending on insurance coverage.
By Dave Franzman, KCRG-TV, Cedar Rapids/Bill Gatchel, KCII, Washington