A fire that destroyed one building and damaged up to four others in the western Iowa town of Woodbine is now being treated as a case of arson. The fire was reported at 3:30 p.m. on September 26.

John Ticer, special agent with the Iowa State Fire Marshal Office, says because of the extent of the damage, it took a while for investigators to locate the fire’s origin. “The fire was intentionally set on the outside of the building in the alley,” Ticer says.

Investigators also know the exact manner of how the fire was set, but that information is not being released. “We want to be able to say that the investigators are the only ones, other than the person who set the fire, who know exactly how it was set,” Ticer says. “At this time, just to preserve the integrity of the investigation, we’re withholding that information.”

The building that was destroyed in the blaze housed a business, Ellen’s Flower Shop. The fire caused structural damage to an adjoining building and water and smoke damage to two or three other buildings, according to Ticer.

Witnesses reported seeing a person leaving the alley behind to Ellen’s Flower Shop just a couple minutes before the fire was first spotted. “At this point, all we have is a white male wearing baggy shorts and dark colored shoes,” Ticer said of the suspect’s description.

No one was seriously injured in the fire. Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact the Iowa State Fire Marshal Division at 712-308-3977, the Arson Hotline at 800-532-1459, or the Woodbine Police Department at 712-647-2345.