West Des Moines fire sends smoke billowing onto I-235

(West Des Moines, IA) -- Fire at a West Des Moines office building sent thick black smoke billowing onto nearby I-235 during the Monday afternoon rush-hour. Fire Marshall Mike Whitsell tells WHO Radio News a passerby called 9-1-1 around 4 o'clock to report the fire at a vacant office building in the 12-hundred block of 8th Street.

Whitsell says when firefighters arrived it was clear the fire had advanced and it wasn't safe for them to try and go inside. He says they were able to prevent the fire from spreading to a nearby restaurant.

Whitsell says the office building was slated to be demolished to make way for a new development. He says they're not sure yet what sparked the fire.

He says they had to block a large stretch of 8th Street between Office Park Road and Ashworth so crews could run fire hoses from hydrants.

"The smoke was so thick, you couldn't see," said Mary Doyle of Des Moines. She and her daughter Kelly say you could see the smoke for miles this afternoon. They were among dozens of people gathered along the sidewalks near the fire.

The fire dominated WHO Radio afternoon traffic reports . Drivers on I-235 had to turn on their headlines to try and navigate thru the dense smoke.

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