UPDATE: I-29 fire started after explosion at homeless camp

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – UPDATE: Officials gave more details on the incident on I-29 that took place Wednesday afternoon.

Police said that fire along I-29 sparked in a homeless camp under a culvert along the interstate. That culvert is located just south of Tri-Vew Avenue and the Hard Rock Hotel.

Fire crews responded to the scene to discover propane tanks were also located under that culvert.

It all started just before 2 p.m. when firefighters noticed smoke coming from the culvert below I-29. Sioux City Fire Rescue said the first started in a homeless camp set up in the space.

It quickly turned into a massive plume of black smoke that could be seen throughout downtown Sioux City. They said propane tanks in the camp exploded, quickly fueling a major fire.

“What made this particularly difficult is this is a box culvert that goes underneath this bridge, a box culvert is a way for water to drain through the area, as such the Iowa DOT has a membrane over the culvert to protect the concrete. That membrane is flammable which aided in the development of the fire,” Ryan Collins with the Sioux City Fire Rescue said.

Officials with the Iowa DOT were on the scene all afternoon inspecting the structural integrity of the interstate. They re-opened the southbound lanes but are still working to fully inspect the area under the northbound lanes for damage before opening the interstate back up to traffic.

There is still no word yet on when that inspection might be complete, so for now, dozens of emergency crews are spread throughout downtown Sioux City directing traffic. They’re asking everyone to slow down, pay attention and be patient.

PREVIOUS: The Sioux City Police Department said that northbound lanes of traffic on Interstate 29 will be closed for an extended time as southbound lanes have reopened.

Northbound drivers on I-29 are being diverted off the interstate at Nebraska Street. They will then go west on Gordon Drive up to the Vet’s Bridge to then get back on the interstate. Drivers are asked to avoid the area.

Southbound traffic on I-29 has resumed but they advise drives be cautious as there were several accidents due to the fire.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Detours in South Sioux City have been canceled, restoring traffic in the northside of town.

Additionally, bridge inspectors have arrived on the scene as traffic on I-29 southbound reopened.

Officials still ask drivers to avoid the area if possible.

Traffic is being diverted in South Sioux City as a result of the fire that took place on I-29.

Lt. Chris Chenock with the South Sioux City Police Department said that traffic is being routed in South Sioux City.

Southbound traffic will go into South Sioux City across the Veteran’s Memorial Bridge and be routed out along the 77/75 bypass.

There is no northbound traffic across the Veteran’s Bridge. Any northbound traffic in South Sioux City has been detoured from northbound at 9th Street and Dakota Avenue to the east on 9th to G Street and then south on G Street. Police ask that no one try to go north on Dakota Avenue from 9th and Dakota.

Traffic on Interstate 29 is being diverted as crews fight a fire underneath an overpass between Pierce and Pearl Streets.

I-29 between Exit 147B and Exit 148 is being blocked as emergency vehicles remain on scene.

Traffic in both directions is being diverted around the area. Officials ask for drivers to avoid the area if possible.

The Department of Transportation will evaluate the damage at the scene.


Crews were called to the scene after 2 p.m. when black smoke was in the area causing visibility issues.

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