Recent Osky Fires Not Arson, According To Fire Chief

Oskaloosa Fire Chief Mark Neff spoke with the media following another house fire in Oskaloosa this week.

With several house fires in recent months, some citizens in and around Oskaloosa are fearful that there may be an arsonist on the loose. Chief Neff says that is not the case with these recent fires.

“We have no reason to suspect at all that there is anybody out there starting fires,” said Neff.

The most recent fire, located at 604 North E Street in Oskaloosa, which occurred early Thursday morning, was started by electrical problems.

“It was determined that overload electrical circuits caused that fire,” explained Neff. “There were three window air conditioner units in operation on an older home that still had knob and tube wiring.”


Oskaloosa Fire Chief Mark Neff addressees the media Friday morning

This has been a theme with recent fires in the area, with electrical units on older housing overloading with too many air conditioners in the hot weather. The only known arson case occurred at 610 North C Street, with two fires at the condemned structure. The first fire was started in late March.

“They weren’t very good at it,” according to Neff. “They used some oil soaked rags. They didn’t have enough other material in there to sustain the fire. The fire was out upon our arrival.”

Neff says that the State Fire Marshall was not called after this fire, but that is typical protocol in that situation.

“The State Fire Marshall’s office, unless there’s a fatality or a large insurance claim for over a million dollars, they won’t come in,” said Neff. “We had been in contact with them on this, we knew what we had, and the investigation was ongoing. We had no witnesses that came forward to help us out with that.”

The second fire was much more serious ten days after the first.

“On April the 7th, we had another structure fire there,” recalled Neff. “That one we extinguished with the aid of the Pella Fire Department coming in and the Cedar Township [fire department] coming up assisting with that. We called the State Fire Marshall on that one after we had had conversations, so now we knew we had something working. The State Fire Marshall’s report came back after our investigation with them. It has been determined arson.”

Neff said anyone with any information about that particular fire should contact local authorities.

“If anybody has any information, please contact the Oskaloosa Police Department or the Oskaloosa Fire Department,” said Neff. “We will take any information.”

Chief Neff encourages everyone in the area to be aware of the surroundings and to report any suspicious activity.

There is NOT cause for concern, as the fire department is on pace for their normal amount of structure fire calls in 2016, and only those two fires at 610 North C Street were found to be arson.

If you have any information about that or any other suspicious fires, you can reach the Oskaloosa Fire Department at 641-673-3541.



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