Ampride fire too hot to determine cause

Massive damage in the Ampride All-Round Travel Center has prevented investigators from figuring out what caused the Feb. 6 blaze that destroyed the Fort Dodge business, an official said Thursday afternoon.

”Due to the extensive damage in the room of origin we’re unable to pinpoint the exact point of origin and without that we can’t determine the cause of the fire,” said Assistant Fire Chief Doug Ostbloom, who is the city’s fire marshal.

Ostbloom said the fire started in the kitchen.

He said the cause of the fire will be listed as undetermined.

Although its distinctive round building has been destroyed, the business at 3243 Fifth Ave. S. may be selling gasoline and diesel fuel as early as next week, according to Bill Bunker, the manager.

”We’re going to be up pumping fuel,” he said.

Bunker said the current building will be demolished and replaced with a new one. That new structure probably won’t be round, he added.

The fire was reported at about 10:55 p.m. Feb. 6. Firefighters worked all night to extinguish the blaze, and the last emergency personnel left the scene at about 9 a.m. Feb. 7.

Fire Chief Kent Hulett said the building and its contents were a total loss. He said fire damage was confined to the back of the building. The roof over the back of the building collapsed and a rear wall was left structurally unsound. The front part of the building sustained heavy smoke and heat damage.

No one was injured in the fire.

A team that included Ostbloom, two agents from the state fire marshal’s office, an insurance company investigator and Fort Dodge police officers spent three days picking through the rubble to determine what sparked the fire. A backhoe was used on Thursday to tear down the rear wall.

Bunker said an 8-by-20-foot temporary steel building will be placed on the property and the fuel pumps will be restored to operation.

He said he hoped a new building could be constructed by June or July.

The building was constructed in 1967. The business was originally known as Standard All-Round Truck Stop. Bunker started working there when it opened.