May fire in Atlantic determined to be arson


July 2nd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

A reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest in connection with a fire May 18th, that destroyed a home at 602 Oak Street in Atlantic.

The aftermath of a fire May 18th at 602 Oak Street in Atlantic

The Blaze erupted at the structure owned by Hockenberry Family Care Funeral Home, at around 3-a.m. on that date. Atlantic Fire Chief Mark McNees says the investigation has been going on since the day of the fire, and has included tests conducted by the Atlantic Fire Department, testing by an agent with the property owners’ insurance company, McNees says by digging through the debris, they saw a definite burn pattern and what was used to start the blaze. He says “It’s definitely a case of arson.”

McNees says they’ve taken witness interviews about as far as they can, and are looking for anyone with any new information to step-forward, to move the investigation along. 

John Ticer, Special Agent with the Iowa Fire Marshal’s Office, told KJAN News there are tell-tale signs that often present themselves as clues that a fire is suspicious. He said “burn patterns” are one of those signs.  Ticer says he can’t reveal additional details about how the fire started, such as the type of material used to ignite the blaze.He said they basically just acknowledge it was a set fire. Ticer asked anyone who may have seen anything unusual between the hours of 1-a.m. and 3-a.m. on May 18th, to contact his office or the Atlantic Police Department

A reward of up to $10,000, available through the Arson Hotline, is being offered for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible. Call the Arson Hotline at 1-800-532-1459 if you have any information or the Atlantic Police Department, at 712-243-3512. You can remain anonymous.

Firefighters in Atlantic were on the scene for nearly six-hours. Witnesses told KJAN News the flames started on the upper floor on the east side of the home, in an area that served as an apartment, above the garage. McNees said young people had often used the vacant house as a “hang out.” No one was injured fighting the blaze.

(8-a.m. News)