Residents of the southeast Iowa town of Keota are coping with the loss of several key downtown businesses destroyed in a fire over the weekend. Investigators are still trying to figure out exactly what sparked the fire Saturday morning and if it was set intentionally.
Bill Miller owns two buildings on the main stretch of road through town. One building housed a storage facility and a health club, but now only charred reminders of those businesses remain. “It’s just great to live in a small town. It makes you feel better, but looking at the smoldering rubble is mind-numbing,” Miller said. The other business Miller owns – an auto shop – survived the flames. He’s hoping to rebuild the storage facility and fitness center, but says that’ll hinge on his financial situation.
A nearby law office, where Attorney Scott Flynn works, escaped major damage in the fire. “Most of my computer files I’ve got on my laptop. I keep it with me and take it home from the office,” Flynn said. Flynn is also a Keota City Council member. He says losing so many businesses in a small town is devastating. “We’re going to have to look at what we can do to help people rebuild and perhaps even attract some new businesses into town,” Flynn said.
A laundromat, an insurance office and a costume shop were also damaged in the fire. Crews are expected to start removing some of the debris by the end of this week or early next week.
By Mark Geary, KCRG-TV, Cedar Rapids