Iowa City Wood-Framed Construction Project Engulfed in Fire-Ball Explosion

A fire erupted at the Hodge-Hieronymus Square Development in Iowa City, causing an estimated $1 million in damage. The result of the fire marshal’s investigation on Wednesday revealed that the fire was caused by a liquid propane-fueled radiant heater that came in contact with combustible sub-floor adhesives. Though the project was originally slated for completion by the end of this year, the fire could result in significant delays.

The Iowa City fire represents a growing trend of wood-framed, multi-story fires across the country.

“This fire is one of many,” said Kevin Lawlor, spokesperson for Build with Strength, a coalition of the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association consisting of community organizations, fire safety professionals, engineers, architects and industry experts committed to strengthening the nation’s building codes and ensuring greater access to secure housing.  “Today it was a development in Iowa City, but tomorrow it will be yet another mid- to high-rise structure built out of combustible materials.”, if its combustible construction you are never safe from this type of destruction. We’ve seen assisted living centers, residential apartment complexes in areas of high density population, places of work, play and prayer all burn down because of an inferior construction material.”

Witnesses video recording the incident reported seeing a fire-ball explosion just after 2:45 p.m. on Tuesday. Fortunately, no one was harmed.  

“Even when residents escape injury or death, a high cost to the community still remains,” says Lawlor. “Businesses are disrupted, taxpayer dollars are expended, roads are shut down and first responders are put to the test.”

Build with Strength, a coalition of the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA), has launched a campaign to educate citizens, local and state officials, and industry experts about the inherent dangers of wood-framed construction, particularly in multi-story, residential and commercial buildings. As a grassroots organization, they work with local elected officials and industry workers, from architects to project managers to advocate for the safety benefits of working with concrete-based construction.

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