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Fire Marshal deems Y fire suspicious

December 13, 2012
By DAVID ALEXANDER - Staff Writer ( , Times-Republican

The Marshalltown Fire Department has deemed a small fire at the Marshalltown YMCA-YWCA Tuesday night suspicious after finding materials that looked to be intentionally ignited in a locker room.

Just after 5 p.m., firefighters responded to a general fire alarm at the Y. The quick action of staff member Bill Rakers, a floor monitor and bus driver, prevented the fire from spreading.

Carol Hibbs, Marshalltown Y CEO, said a member spotted the toilet paper fire in the boy's locker room and promptly flagged down Rakers who then doused the flames with a dry chemical extinguisher.

"It's a good thing he caught it when he did," she said.

Because the fire appears to have been intentionally set, Fire Marshal Deb Lundgren said Marshalltown Police and Fire Departments would continue to investigate.

Hibbs said the member claims to have seen some people exiting the locker room through the opposite door at about the same time he was entering. The locker room was otherwise empty at the time of the fire, she said.

Police are questioning all those present during the fire, said Capt. Mike Hanken, with the Marshalltown Police Department.

The fire caused approximately $5,000 in damage to the bathroom fixtures. Hibbs said the Y would have to replace the toilet paper dispenser where the fire appears to have originated.

She attributes the fire's minimal damage to staff training.

"We are fortunate it was caught early and handled well by staff," she said.

Although the adult locker rooms have key code entry, the youth locker rooms do not.

Firefighters were on scene for approximately an hour, but, since it was already out when they arrived, they did not need to deploy equipment to deal with the fire. Hibbs said Y staff put classes on hold for roughly an hour while the MFD used ventilation fans to clear the smoke.

The MFD asks anyone with information about the fire to call 641-754-5751.



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