May 18, 2022

Fire destroys Progress Industries home

No apparent injuries; neighbor heard explosion

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A fire destroyed a Progress Industries home at 1550 West Eighth Street South in Newton on Monday afternoon. All of the residents appear to have escaped without serious injury.

The Newton Fire Department was called to the house at about 3:45 p.m. after neighbors called 911. One neighbor, Don Morgan, who lives behind the house, said he heard two explosions, and then looked out his back window to see the house’s deck on fire.

Firefighters, upon arrival, reported the home was “fully engaged.” Dark smoke filled the streets east of the house.

The home appeared to be severely damaged, but firefighters managed to keep the blaze from spreading despite gusting winds.

Newton Fire Chief Jarrod Wellik said Tuesday morning the cause of the fire is still undetermined. His crews were still dousing hot spots in the house about two hours after the call came in.
"The was a very serious fire," he said. "The home is expected to be a total loss."

Neighbors told the Newton Daily News the house belongs to Progress Industries, a nonprofit organization that provides housing and other services and support for people with physical and other disabilities.

Progress Industries representatives appeared to be at the house, but did not identify themselves. Calls for comment from Progress Industries were not returned by press time.

The fire was a part of a busy couple of days for area emergency crews.

Between 3:45 p.m. and 7 p.m. Monday, the Newton Fire Department responded to three fire calls and two medical calls, with mutual aid provided by the Kellogg and Reasnor departments. One of the fire calls was along South Third Avenue.

“The fire on South Third Avenue was the result of a grill that was too close to the house,” Wellik said. “The fire was contained to the surface of the (house) wall.”

Newton Fire and the Iowa State Patrol responded to a car-motorcycle collision at about noon Monday at West Eighth Street South and South Eighth Avenue West, in front of Woodrow Wilson Elementary School. That collision resulted in only minor injuries, and no one was transported to a hospital.
Mutual aid was received from Baxter and Kellogg when Newton Fire responded to a house fire Sunday night in the 1000 block of West Eighth Street North.

“The roof on an addition was heavily damaged by fire,” Wellik said. “The house had significant smoke damage.”

Contact Jason W. Brooks at 641-792-3121 ext. 6532 or