Fire destroys Richmond shed
RICHMOND — As far as Julie Harland is concerned, anyone coming back a year from now and looking where the debris from the fire that destroyed her two-story garage Monday is, will see a brand new garage in its place.
Looking over the wreckage this morning, she said that the two-story garage had a long history in Richmond. She said that previously it was the ZCBJ Polish Lodge, then Duwa’s Auction had it for storage. The Harlands bought the building in 1995 and Jeff Harland, Julie Harland’s husband, had redone the front to make it into a garage. The couple had also built an addition onto the building for additional storage.
“Yes, we had a bigger garage than most people had, but then we didn’t have to have all the extra space people need to store things,” Julie Harland said.
At about 1:50 p.m. Monday, Kalona Fire Department was called to the garage, located at 557 South St., to reports of the structure being fully engulfed. Wellman Fire Department, Washington Fire Department and Riverside Fire Department were called for mutual aid. Since the fire, the Kalona Fire Department has had to return twice to extinguish the remains of the garage that has been rekindling. She said that no cause of the fire has been determined. Kalona Fire Chief Steve Yotty was not available for comment this morning.
“The whole back part was still original, so it still had — from the 1970s, when they came to the lodge for dances, — the names of people written on the walls,” she said, remembering the garage. “That was kind of neat to see.”
The building was a three-stall garage with plenty of storage in the back. The garage contained what Julie Harland called a “man cave.” It also contained a kitchenette, Julie Harland said. The garage was storing the family’s boat and a vintage car that Jeff Harland had been restoring. Several cars in the garage were rescued. The garage was insured, Julie Harland said.
“The firemen were saying we were lucky it didn’t happen the day before when it was so windy,” Julie Harland said. Her residence, as well as several others, is only about 20 yards from the garage. “Unfortunately, this was our garage that people would store things in.”
Julie Harland said that she was at work in Iowa City when the fire broke out. Since school was out, her daughter Maddie was at home. She said a neighbor, Randy Berg, had seen smoke and flames coming from the garage and had called the fire department. She said Berg had then gone to the house to get Maddie out.
“We have wonderful friends who, as soon as they heard about it, zoomed down here past the firefighters saying they had to get to the house and make sure everyone is out,” she said. “It is a nice small town and people are looking out for you.”
Julie Harland said that she is thankful to still have a house to go to and that her family is fine.
This morning, Miley, the family’s Labrador, has been protecting the house and garage from onlookers. Julie Harland said that when the fire fighters arrived, Maddie had to put Miley in the house. She said Miley was trying to protect the property and would not let the firefighters near.