Scary sight in Hawarden's downtown

Smoke was rolling from the fire at Jeff’s Radiator & Exhaust Repair in Hawarden Tuesday, June 18.

HAWARDEN—An automotive repair shop was destroyed by a fire Tuesday afternoon, June 18, in downtown Hawarden.

Hawarden Fire & Rescue was called at about 4:15 p.m. to 708 10th St., the address of Jeff’s Radiator & Exhaust Repair.

The page said the fire department was needed to respond to a vehicle on fire inside the building located at that address.

Crowd gathers on the scene

Longtime employee Charlie Hughes, at right, watches as the place he punches in day in and day out goes up in flames.

Owner Jeff Carr and all employees escaped from the flames without being injured, which was confirmed by Hawarden fire chief Duane Schiefen.

Carr’s son Andrew said it all happened quickly.

“We were getting gas out of the gas tank in a car,” Andrew said. “Something sparked; I wasn’t really paying attention because my dad was doing the work. When I turned around, his drill dropped and the fire had started.”

Carr and his son grabbed both fire extinguishers kept inside the shop but that did not help as the fire was spreading so quickly.

The fire departments from Ireton, Akron and Alcester, SD, were called to the scene to assist Hawarden firefighters, as was the Hawarden Police Department to help with traffic control.

Schiefen said 57 firefighters responded to the blaze from the four fire departments, as did 12 emergency medical services personnel members from Hawarden.

Firefighters were at the scene for about three hours and used about 150,000 gallons of water as well as foam to battle the blaze.

“We were mostly in defensive mode,” Schiefen said, noting that the foam that was used was “nothing really extravagant.”

Jeff’s Radiator & Exhaust Repair has been ruled a total loss.

“It’s a shell of itself,” Schiefen said.

He said no official cause has been determined yet for the fire.

Nearby businesses Dollar General and Porter Funeral Home reported minimal smoke damage.

Staff writer Mark Mahoney contributed to this story.