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Building development for homeless youth in Des Moines catches fire

The 6th Avenue Flats building was under construction and set to be completed in December.

DES MOINES, Iowa — An apartment complex set to house homeless youth in Des Moines caught fire Tuesday night.

The 6th Avenue Flats are still under construction, but a portion of the 42 units are reserved for YSS to house young adults who have been homeless and are aging out of the state foster care system.

The Des Moines Fire Department responded to the fire after someone walking by the building near 6th Avenue and Indiana Avenue called it in around 9:30 p.m. Crews put it out within minutes, but not before the fire spread to the upper floors.

Partner of the owner Michel Kiernan says, he is thankful due to fire precautions the owners have already installed the building acquired less damage than it could have. 

Officials said no one was inside the building at the time and no one was hurt.

The area has been under construction for months and was slated for completion in April 2022.

"We're still shooting for April 15 of 2022. We've got a great general contractor, great team of experienced people," said Michael Kiernan, who is working on the project. "This is a setback, but we look to overcome it and still had our deadline of April 2022."

Kiernan added the damage from the fire was predominately found in the northeast corner of the building, however, officials say it could have been a lot worse. 

"A lot of times when we find these structures that are still being built as they go, their sprinkler systems and their fire alarm systems are not necessarily engaged yet," said Ahman Douglass with the Des Moines Fire Department. "So part of the fire alarm system and the smoke detectors and all that, that comes into play later on. So as of right now, there's just a lot of void spaces in there."

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, and officials do not yet know the cost of the damages.

Local 5 will update this story as more information becomes available. Download the We Are Iowa app or subscribe to Local 5's "5 Things to Know" email newsletter for the latest. 

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