Fire-truckA fire that broke out overnight in western Iowa is being investigated as a possible arson and hate crime. Council Bluffs Police Sergeant Chad Meyers says around 3:30 a.m., an officer smelled smoke in the area of North 29th Street and Avenue G and then noticed a home on fire.

“He noticed smoke coming from the roof and all of the windows were blackened out by the smoke,” Meyers said. “He requested the fire department respond and then tried to alert anybody who may’ve been in the house. He did not get a response from anyone.” The fire was quickly extinguished and there were no injuries reported as the home was unoccupied at the time. Investigators believe the fire may’ve been intentionally set.

“While they were there, they noticed a detached garage had two swastikas spray-painted on two sides of it and a racial slur spray-painted on two sides of the garage as well,” Meyers said. It’s unclear if the fire and spray-paintings are connected.

“The swastika and the racial slurs were actually spray-painted on the garage a couple of days ago, so we don’t know for sure if these two incidents are related or not, but we will be investigating that as a possible hate crime either way,” Meyers said. According to Meyers, the owner is a white female who has a biracial daughter and biracial adult grandson who live with her at the home. All three of them were out of town last night.

Karla James contributed to this story.