Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

Local News

July 12, 2012

Controlled burn incinerates house on North Park as former residents watch

CENTERVILLE — The Centerville Fire Department conducted a controlled burn of a vacant house at 1015 N. Park St. Tuesday afternoon.

Many spectators stood across the street and watched the house go up in flames. And for some of those spectators — former residents of the house — it was a bitter sight to watch but a sweet way to reminisce about the good days.

Otha Vearle Jr. and Deloris Fenton lived at 1015 N. Park St. in Centerville and raised their family: Cindy, Greg, Linda, Lisa, Larry and Lynnette.

Cindy Printy, of Centerville, who was born in 1954 and the oldest of six, grew up in the house and talked about her experiences.

"We had a lot of good memories in this house," Printy said. "We had a porch swing between those trees. I can remember us having watermelon out here in the yard."

Lynnette Fenton, 36, of Centerville, the baby of the family, working through the emotion, said it was overwhelming to watch as her childhood house was consumed by fire.

"I was blessed to live there. I had the best parents anyone could possibly have," she said. "They were wonderful, God-fearing parents and I am happy that God gave me the parents to live in that home with. I cherish the memories that I have in that house."

Niece Nicki Salisbury, 32, of Coralville, said it was more than a house, it was a place where family met, as she struggled to fight back tears.

"It was where our whole family got together for everything," she said.

Printy later said it was perhaps for the better as the house had not been occupied for some time and had become run down.

George Johnson, Centerville building and code compliance officer, said Jeff Burns purchased the building from the Fenton family and offered it as a voluntary demolition to the fire department.

Firefighters were seen entering the large, white structure across from Grace Tabernacle at approximately 4:50 p.m. By 4:55 p.m. wisps of ashen then black smoke filtered through a hole in the roof; by 5 p.m. flames could been seen shooting through the roof and by 5:25 p.m. a majority of the house was totally consumed by fire.

Beside the Centerville Fire Department, assisting at the scene were the Centerville Police Department, Mystic Fire and EMS, Mystic Voluntary Fire Department and Mercy Medical Center ambulance with a cooling tent.

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The Iowegian wants readers to think about building code compliance. One Centerville resident at Monday's City Council meeting proposed the city create two new positions in the police department to only deal with minimum housing and nuisance abatement issues. The city currently has George Johnson as the only employee assigned to enforce building code compliance issues. Does Centerville need more than just Johnson to enforce code compliance issues? So, the question of the week is, "Should Centerville hire additional help to assist George Johnson enforce building code compliance issues?"

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