Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
A fire destroyed the Milton Locker early Saturday morning.
The building, at the corner of North Main Street and East Maple Street in the downtown of Milton, in Van Buren County, was a total loss, according to Milton Fire Chief Rufus Musser.
Milton firefighters received a page at 6:45 a.m. that day indicating there was a fire at the Milton Locker, a business owned by Roman Schooley. Upon arrival a few minutes later, Musser and the other firefighters saw a structure filled with smoke and a “heavily involved fire” inside, with flames shooting from the second story attic.
A call for mutual aid went out to four surrounding fire departments, and they all responded: Pulaski, Keosauqua, Cantril and Douds. Musser estimated that about 60 firefighters helped to quell the blaze.
Firefighters concentrated on putting out the fire on the building’s north end because it is just 3 feet from a neighboring structure, an old storefront that is now a residence. The south end of the building was a less priority since it abuts the street, and no other building on that side was in danger.
“Once the fire broke through the roof, we started shooting water cannons from front and back to suppress it,” Musser said.
Musser said he was glad firefighters were able to quash the fire on the north side sufficiently so that the neighboring residence suffered no damage. However, the fire did extensive damage to the Milton Locker, especially the old part of the building on the south. The owner was in the middle of putting an expansion onto the 73-year-old structure.
All of the equipment inside was destroyed, and all the meat had to be condemned. Musser said there were no animals or humans in the building at the time of the fire. He’s not sure what started the fire, though his best guess now is that it started in the mechanical room.
The majority of the fire was put out by 10:30 a.m. that morning, and firefighters remained on scene to mop up hot spots until 1:30 p.m.