Public Safety

Third Cedar Rapids fire ruled arson

A fire and arson investigator with the Cedar Rapids Fire Department talks on the telephone at the scene of an early morning structure fire at Duchess Cleaners, 3905 Center Point Rd NE, in northeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Monday, Aug. 20, 2018. The firefighters responded to the blaze at 4:56 a.m. The building was destroyed. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
A fire and arson investigator with the Cedar Rapids Fire Department talks on the telephone at the scene of an early morning structure fire at Duchess Cleaners, 3905 Center Point Rd NE, in northeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Monday, Aug. 20, 2018. The firefighters responded to the blaze at 4:56 a.m. The building was destroyed. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Three Cedar Rapids fires in the past five days have been ruled arsons, the most recent at a longtime dry-cleaning business.

However, at this point police do not have any information linking any of the three arsons — two of which occurred within blocks of each other.

Police said an Aug. 15 fire at a three-story complex on Blairs Ferry Road NE does not appear to be connected to fires that occurred days later at a Hollywood Boulevard home on Aug. 17 and at Duchess Cleaners, on Center Point Road NE, on Aug. 20. The Duchess Cleaner’s fire was ruled an arson Tuesday.

Cedar Rapids public safety spokesman Greg Buelow said all three fires appear to have been started intentionally but are being treated independently at this point.

“At this point investigators do not believe that the Blairs Ferry Road fire is related to any other fires,” Buelow said. “It appears to be a targeted incident toward an individual in that apartment complex.”

However, Buelow said investigators continue to look into the latter two fires, which occurred within a few blocks of each other. At this time, they are being treated as separate incidents, he said.

“Until evidence or witness statements link them, we are not able to say whether they’re correlated at this time,” he added.

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There have been no arrests, but Buelow said police and fire officials have increased their presence in the neighborhood and encourage the public or those with surveillance cameras in the area to provide police with any information.

Intentionally set fires in Cedar Rapids since August 15

“At this point, what we’re asking is obviously for people to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity,” he said.

Anyone with information on the three fires is encouraged to contact the Cedar Rapids Fire Department at 319-286-5200.

Police are investigating the following suspected arsons:

• A three-story complex at 2131 Blairs Ferry Road NE started on fire on Aug. 15 when an ignitable liquid was poured in the stairwell between the first and second floors, according to police.

Two people were rescued from the third floor, while two more jumped from upper floor windows. Three people were taken to a hospital with minor injuries. Nine people were displaced as a result of the fire.

• A home at 1639 Hollywood Blvd. NE was set on fire Aug. 17, according to police.

A family of four was displaced, and their pet cat died as a result of the blaze. Two firefighters were injured while responding to the incident.

• Duchess Cleaners, 3905 Center Point Road NE, took on considerable damage after being set on fire early Aug. 20, according to police.

No one was in the building at the time. The business had been in Cedar Rapids for more than 40 years.

l Comments: (319) 398-8309; mitchell.schmidt@thegazette.com

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