The cause of the fire at the Hodge-Hieronymus Square project in downtown Iowa City has been determined, investigators said Wednesday. The fire marshal’s investigation determined that a liquid propane-fueled radiant heater came in contact with combustible sub-floor adhesives, sparking the blaze.
The fire, which started during the afternoon on Tuesday, March 5, began on the third floor of the partially-constructed building. There, crews had a temporary 10 foot by 10 foot tent to serve as a temporary warming area for the adhesives. Inside the tent, a propane-fueled radiant heater was used to heat up the space.
The propane heater came in contact with the combustible adhesive and caught fire. As the flames grew, they engulfed the propane tank fueling the heater which exploded. Strong winds further aided the spread of the fire through the structure.
The fire marshal estimated the loss at around $1 million. The determination was made from interviews and site inspection.