Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

Local News

May 3, 2013

Building deemed fire hazard prior to blaze

Public Hearing scheduled for Monday

Knoxville — Following inspection, the City of Knoxville had deemed 110 East Robinson a nuisance, over one year before the building was set on fire on March 25. 

In a letter dated June 29, 2011, signed by the former Zoning Administrator and Fire Chief, owner Susan Vincent was informed that the building, in its present condition, was "considered to be a dangerous building, public nuisance, detrimental to the value of neighboring properties and a fire hazard." 

Vincent was given 60 days to bring the building into compliance with fire codes or removed. The building had to be vacated immediately. 

Another inspection was performed on Oct. 17, 2012. In a letter dated Nov. 1, 2012, the City informed Vincent that the building was structurally unsafe and not provided with adequate egress. The building remained a fire hazard by reason of "inadequate maintenance, dilapidation, obsolescence or abandonment." 

Concern was expressed in both of these letters about the smell in the building. Mold, deteriorated floor joists and a disallowed electrical feed were among complaints from the City on Nov. 1. The building was ordered to remain empty until the repairs were made. 

As previously reported, Nicholas Wade Carter, 18, has been accused of arson. He allegedly set the building on fire because he "just wanted to be done" with the task of cleaning inside the structure. 

Marion County Attorney Ed Bull said he is waiting on the Fire Marshal's report to file a trial information document. Carter had previously waived his preliminary hearing, pending the filing of the trial information. Bull believes the marshal's report should be received within two weeks. 

On March 26, the day after the fire, the City informed two adjacent property owners, Jean Peterson and Caviness LLC, that the fire "may have compromised the structural integrity of surrounding buildings." 

The letter sent to the adjacent property owners goes on to say, "The City of Knoxville will require third-party verification from a structural engineer that the buildings at 108 East Robinson, 110 East Robinson and 112 East Robinson are structurally sound and safe for occupancy. Appropriate building permits must be obtained before construction, demolition, electrical or other activities are performed as outlined in the Knoxville Municipal Code." 

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