Evening blaze destroys group home in Guttenberg

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At left, firefighters tackle a Dec. 1 blaze at a group home in Guttenberg operated by Imagine the Possiblities; at right, flames shoot into the sky above the attached carport at the residence at 523 North Second Street. Two area fire departments joined Guttenberg volunteers to extinguish the fire; additional support came from local and area EMS and law enforcement agencies. See more photos on page 12. (Press photos by Austin Greve)

Five residents of a group home in Guttenberg were successfully evacuated during a Thursday evening fire on Dec. 1 that destroyed their home at 523 North Second Street.

The Guttenberg Fire Department responded to the call at approximately 8:30 p.m. that evening and upon arrival found the building fully engulfed in flames and smoke.

"We were advised that there were five individuals who lived there, and staff had not accounted for all of them yet," said a news release from Fire Chief Joe Zittergruen. "As resources were sent to help locate the missing individuals, a fire attack team was also established. Within minutes, four of the missing individuals were located outside the building and attended to by EMS. The fifth individual was located by firefighters inside the structure and assisted to EMS for treatment."

All five residents and a staff member were transported to Guttenberg Municipal Hospital for evaluation and treatment of any injuries.

The fire department cleared the scene at 1:30 a.m., but was called back to the site a half hour later for some hot spots and fire flare-ups.

The home is owned by Imagine the Possibilities, which provides community-based services to people with disabilities. It was formerly  operated by G & G Living Centers. 

An initial investigation into the cause of the fire began as soon as visibility inside the structure improved and the fire was extinguished. The Iowa State Fire Marshal's office was contacted to assist with the investigation. 

"At this time there is no obvious signs of foul play, but the investigation is ongoing," said Chief Zittergruen.

The Guttenberg Fire Department was assisted by the Garnavillo Fire Department, Garber Fire Department, Guttenberg Ambulance, Garnavillo EMS, Elkader EMS, Clayton County Sheriff’s Department, Guttenberg Police Department, and Iowa State Fire Marshals.

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