Upcoming Fourth of July holiday brings back memories of the 1936 Remsen fire

Local News
With the upcoming Fourth of July holiday comes fireworks and a reminder to stay safe during a time when safety hazards run rampant. Iowa’s ban on fireworks came with the onset of the most disastrous calamity that hit the town of Remsen late in the afternoon on July 4th in 1936 when a fire broke out from a firework accident. 
The Remsen fire caused about 600,000 dollars in damages and resulted from children playing with fireworks in the downtown area. 
 
Just two years after the 1936 fire, fireworks were banned in the state of Iowa, but fire officials say they are much more equipped to handle a large scale fire now than they were back then; but if a fire were to break out, it might cost more to repair the same amount of damage. 
 
“Damage wise, probably not; but dollars wise it would probably double because everything costs so much now versus then to replace the building structure that you would lose,” says Todd Tetinger, Remsen fire chief. 
 
The fire had such a large impact on Remsen residents, and one man who was just 12 years old during the fire, says he didn’t think the fire was going to cause so much destruction.
 
“You know it’s going to be bad but I didn’t realize it was going to be that bad, that costly,” says Marcel “Jinx” Matgen. 
 
Despite the devastation left behind, Matgen says something good did come out of the aftermath of the fire.
 
“The district building burned down and he paid me a penny a brick if I cleaned the brick so he could reuse them; so I cleaned quite a few bricks that summer,” says Matgen.
 
With the fourth of July coming up, many aren’t as concerned about fires breaking out. In fact, many travel to surrounding states to watch their firework shows,
 
“I like fireworks. I don’t shoot them anymore but I am going to Omaha to watch them this summer this time,” says Matgen. 

Even though fireworks are banned, many still want to be in the spirit of celebrating and still shoot off small fireworks that don’t require a commercial license to have. The most important thing is to just be safe. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Don't Miss

More Don't Miss

Trending Stories