Reward offered for information about Tama Building blaze

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Update: A reward of $10,000 is now being offered for information that helps investigators determine the cause of a massive fire that destroyed the historic Tama building in downtown Burlington.

The reward was announced In a media release sent Thursday, Aug. 30 by the City of Burlington. Officials say investigators have identified where the fire started, but not how.

Grinnel Mutual Reinsurance Company - which insured the building which was being renovated when the fire broke out - are offering $10,000 for "credible information to assist in identifying the cause of the fire."

Earlier: BURLINGTON, Iowa - Firefighters were back at the scene today of a fire that destroyed the historic Tama building in downtown Burlington on Saturday, Aug. 4.

The building was undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation when the fire started.  Tenants were two months away from moving into some apartment units in the upper levels.  Several businesses were set to move in to the lower levels as well.

Marcia Walker worked for an optometrist in the Tama building for seven years.  She remembers the street as the cornerstone of Burlington.

"They had this lovely counter where you could go in and get some floats and some lovely ice cream things," she recalls.

Burlington Fire Chief, Matt Trexel, reports the building is now a complete loss. "I don't think we will ever be able to go inside that bulding," he says. "We had it assessed by a structural engineer and he doesn't thin it will ever be safe enought to go back inside that."

For now, all investigations will remain outside.

Another fire occured in the same exact building back in 2010.  Since then, investors have been working to restore it for retail and some apartments.

Richard Poindexter owned a Taekwondo in the Tama building years back and remembers the fire in 2010.

This time was no different.

"It was kind of deja vu when I first heard it," he says.  "I couldn't believe it, so I came down at 3AM to watch it and we knew it was gone."

In 2010, the fire started in the basement.  However, this Saturday's fire began in one of the upper stories in the back building.

Tenants were set to move into the new apartments October 1st.  Those plans will now change.

"It's kind of like they say "the Phoenix rises," said Poindexter. "But this time it's not going to rise.  At least not right now."

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