Intense fire forces firefighters into ‘defensive’ mode

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Firefighters from across Scott County were forced to fight a defensive battle as flames raced through Del's Eatery and Pub in Eldridge, Iowa, Thursday.

Eldridge Fire Chief Tyler Schmidt said the fire appeared to start in the northwest corner of the reception hall. Within 10 to 15 minutes after his unit's arrival, fire had totally consumed that hall. The roof also collapsed, forcing firefighters to switch to a defensive operation.

"It's a total loss. We had to back out, switch over to defensive operations just for the safety of everyone on scene," said Schmidt.

Firefighters then put out the call for all tankers in the county to respond.

"We were having what seemed like an issue with the water, just the amount of hose lines that we needed, so we set up a tanker operation to bring in more water so we didn't overwhelm the water system here in town," explained Schmidt.

Another challenge for firefighters battling the blaze was Mother Nature herself.

"It's hard on the guys because it is cold, keeping them warm, moving. Things are icing up; we had some slips and trips," said Schmidt.

Volunteers said it was unusual to see all fourteen Scott County fire departments respond to the call, including units from Princeton, Buffalo, McCausland, Blue Grass, Walcott, LeClaire, Maysville, Long Grove, Dixon, Donahue and Davenport.

"It's an older structure, it's a big structure, so it doesn't surprise me that we've got everybody backing each other up on this one," said Debra Ruggles of the Princeton Fire Department.

A cause of the fire has not yet been determined.

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