A fire in downtown Vinton last night that started in a business that's been in existence for more than 80 years, ended up destroying four businesses.

Shannon Dean/Facebook
Shannon Dean/Facebook

The fire, first reported at 7:30 Thursday evening, started at Michael & Dowd Furniture (far right in the photo below, taken this morning). That business was first started in 1936. It had been in its current downtown location for over half a century, according to the Iowa City Press-Citizen.

The other businesses that were destroyed by the fire were Benton County Title Company, the Fischer Law Firm, and Clingman Pharmacy. Firefighters from Vinton and other departments battled the blaze throughout the night and were still on scene this morning.

Heidi Popelka Jones Facebook

This is just the latest in a series of challenges for the Benton County community, over the last 13 years:

  • September 9, 2005: The American Legion catches fire on First Avenue... across the street from last night's fire.
  • June 12-13, 2008: The Cedar River reaches 24.7 feet, flooding parts of the city.
  • July 11, 2011: Straight line winds of more than 130 mph cause major damage, especially to trees in the city
  • July 17, 2016: A tornado hits Imperial Apartments, next to the Benton County Fairgrounds, destroying them and other buildings in town.

Vinton resident Janda Wilden told Vinton Today that the town will persevere:

We will get through this. I’ve seen it before...  if I know anything about this town, it’s that it embodies all the qualities that people love about small-town life. The community will come together and collectively put our arms around those who are hurting. We will get through this. But, wow, such a devastating loss. I’m thankful for the firefighters who worked in frigid temperatures for multiple hours trying to contain the fire.  As far as I know, no one was physically injured, so I’m very grateful for that.

Well said, Janda. Vinton, all of Iowa has you in our thoughts and prayers.