A fire that destroyed one business and damaged several others in Woodbine, Iowa may have been the result of arson. The Iowa State Fire Marshall Division and Woodbine police are currently investigating.
The fire happened back on September 26th. Flames and smoke destroyed the local flower shop and damaged other businesses next door. Many in the area watched in shock. "It was fast it went from one minute there was a little puff of smoke, to the next minute lots of smoke," said Kim Jacob.
Jacob owns a hair salon right across the street and now every time she comes in to work she gets a reminder of the town's loss. "It's really sad."
City Administrator Joe Gaa said some of the businesses have relocated and others have shut down for now, while construction and demolition is underway to try and make repairs. Gaa said it's been difficult for the business owners, their families, and the community, but that the community has really come together.
As cleanup continues, fire investigators are trying to figure out exactly what happened. They aren't saying what caused the fire, but they do say they believe it may have been arson. Investigators said the fire started on an outside wall in the back alley of the businesses. They said a man was seen in the alley just two minutes before someone reported seeing smoke.
News that may be arson has many residents like Jacob in disbelief. "It's really sad. I mean our town is really tight and we all take care of each other and to hear that someone might want to hurt the buildings in our town, the people of our town, and the economy of our town is terrible," said Jacob.
Anyone who saw someone in the alley near the shop is asked to call the arson hotline at 800-532-1459.