WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Sometimes, history repeats itself.
Just after midnight on July 4, West Des Moines firefighters were called to an overnight fire at the Valley West Inn. If this all sounds familiar, it should: the same building also caught fire back in October of last year.
Crews responding to the fire found the blaze spreading across the first floor. They also saw a door leading into the building had been forced open. The building was supposed to be vacant ever since it caught fire in October, so that discovery presented some challenges for fire crews.
"There's holes in potentially the ceilings, the floors, the walls, lot of broken glass, and they're things that can hurt people. But any indication that our responders see upon a scene, especially in a vacant building where somebody might be inside, we treat it as if they are inside," said West Des Moines Fire Marshal Mike Whitsell.
The building won't be vacant forever, though.
Greater Des Moines Supportive Housing announced in June they intend to convert the inn to affordable housing, including 144 apartment spaces.
"It's very sturdy, it's been through a lot. But we are planning to kind of take it down to the bones and rebuild," said Emily Osweiler, CEO of Greater Des Moines Supportive Housing.
Osweiler says they are currently still on track with the project. Rehabbing is expected to start late this year and is projected to take about 18 months.
"For a long time, there's just a huge demand for affordable units, units with wraparound supportive services to help people with stability," she said.
The exact cause of the recent fire is still under investigation, but Whitsell told Local 5 it is considered suspicious.