UPDATE: Man dies in Mason City house fire


MASON CITY, Iowa – An investigation by the fire marshal into a house fire that began in a Mason City home Wednesday night has determined the likely cause of the fatal blaze.

According to a statement by Mark Christiansen, authorities were called to the home at 1516 South Coolidge Avenue at 11:22 p.m. after a neighbor reported a fire in the home.  When officers arrived on the scene, they forced open a door and found the home’s owner, 62-year-old Jesse Pierce lying on the floor.  He was taken to Mercy Medical Center – North Iowa where he died.

Firefighters then found another resident, 59-year-old Cherie McClemons unconscious on a bedroom floor.  She was taken to Mercy and then transferred to the University of Iowa Hospitals in Iowa City.

After an investigation, it’s been determined that the fire started when an ashtray holding a cigarette overturned and fell between the seat cushion and arm of a recliner.  It smoldered there unnoticed until finally sparking.

Mason City officers say, they went in without any protective gear.

While it may not follow protocol, it can save lives and they say it’s a risk they’re willing to take.

“We kind of go with those judgment calls as long as it seems reasonable. Obviously we wouldn’t expect anybody to do anything crazy, but if they feel like they can do that and possibly save somebody, we kind of use a little discretion with the officer in those cases,” said Capt. Mike McKelvey with the Mason City Police Department.

Some criticized Mason City officers and the fire department for not communicating well enough while on the scene.

They described it as two different rescues proceeding at the same time.

The officers who went into the home to try to rescue those inside were treated for smoke inhalation, but are otherwise okay.

One police and fire instructor does warn other officers however, that these gases are very harmful if inhaled.

He says gases like Hydrogen Cyanide and Carbon Monoxide which are present in many house fires today can cause issues, even days after.

Capt. McKelvey says he understands how some could draw this conclusion, but that police and fire both have their own roles in emergency situations.

This makes it hard to communicate between groups, when everyone has a unique responsibility.


MASON CITY, Iowa – Two people were taken to a hospital overnight, after a fire started in a Mason City home.

The fire was reported around 11:30 Wednesday night on the 1500 block of South Coolidge Avenue.

Authorities rescued two people from inside the home.  They were taken to Mercy Medical Center North Iowa.

Police had the street blocked off for some time.  The Fire Marshall’s office is investigating.

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