Costly Recovery After Iowa Museum Fire

January 12, 2014

Officials at a Dubuque, Iowa, museum say it could cost more than $1 million and months of work to recover from a December fire that left extensive smoke and water damage.

Fire damage was minimal during the Dec. 14 fire at the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium, which burned part of a tortoise enclosure. But smoke and water covered one of two primary buildings, the Telegraph Herald reported.

Damage to the William Woodward River Discovery Center included a sprinkler system that drenched a second-floor exhibit area and a first-floor gift shop. It eventually entered the center’s basement. In the end, water and smoke saturated floors, ceilings, walls and interpretive panels.

“It really puts it into perspective – the sprinkler system worked, but that safety feature can cause this much damage,” said John Oglesby, the museum’s facilities manager.

Gift shop items on shelves were destroyed, as well as inventory in storage.

“We had to clean everything in this building, and some of the things we cleaned, we’re starting to recognize need to be replaced,” said John Sutter, the museum’s marketing director.

Museum officials have asked for some financial support since insurance won’t cover it all. Visitors can expect to see some evidence of the recovery effort in the months ahead.

“It’s going to take time to do it right,” Oglesby said.

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