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Des Moines Fire Fighters Reflect on Younkers Building Fire

Photo by Amanda Horvath

Almost a week after the Younkers building in downtown Des Moines went up in flames, emergency crews from the scene are revealing their experiences. During a press conference with members of the Des Moines Fire Department, Lieutenant Randy Jones says his team was the first to arrive at the seven-story burning building.  He says as they worked their way to the top floor, they could only get to the fourth level.

“At that point I heard truck one say the roof just went in, and I heard a series of booms, which as soon as I heard them I thought the floors were pancaking down. Whatever it was I knew we needed to get out of the building.”

Fourteen emergency vehicles responded to last weekend’s blaze that started in the middle of the night. It’s one of the city’s worst fires in the last twenty years. In his three decades of being a firefighter Kevin Carroll says this was a once in a lifetime experience. 

“Our engineer, I’d like to mention this was almost in tears because he had thought he had lost our crew. And I think what is being missed here is we need to sit down and talk about this because my wife was at home crying that whole time when it came on the news. This is the perfect opportunity for the fire department to go back to some old school.”

Because of the magnitude of the fire Carroll says they are lucky that no one was hurt. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.