Death Toll Rises in Iowa Winter Fires

Feb 16, 2016

The first month-and-a-half of 2016 has been particularly deadly in terms of fire deaths in Iowa.

The State Fire Marshall’s office confirms 13 people have perished in their homes with a 14th death from a weekend blaze likely to be added this week.

Spokesperson Ron Humphrey says the numbers are double of those of last year at this time.  Humphrey says half of the fatalities occurred in just two fires in January. Three people died in a home in Montrose in southeast Iowa, and a mother and her three children perished in a blaze in Boxholm just south of Fort Dodge.

Humphrey says in many cases, weather was a factor.

"...that was the case in the Boxholm fire, where it was extremely cold, which led to them using extra heat sources, which led to firefighters to be out in the cold," he said.  "It’s hard on humans, it’s hard on equipment, it’s a perfect storm with everything involved.”

Humphrey says smoke detectors were discovered in the rubble of nearly every fire, but most had no batteries or were otherwise not functioning.