OTTUMWA, Iowa — A fire in downtown Ottumwa destroyed the historic Benson Building, which housed The Bridal Cottage.
On Sunday night, people with wedding and prom dresses on hold at the business are left wondering if they’ll get their money back or receive a new dress. Kristen Adam, one of these customers, is scrambling to find a new dress just months before she says “I do.”
“My first reaction is, ‘oh my gosh, my dress and my veil are in there, our wedding’s in August, what are we going to do?'” Adam said.
While Adam’s dress and others were lost in the fire, officials say no one was inside or hurt in the blaze.
However, it’s still challenging for these women who are now wondering what is next.
“I know what I am feeling just losing a dress and a veil, but they lost an entire business. They lost all the prom dresses, their gowns, and tuxes, and the building, I just can’t imagine what they are feeling,” Adam said.
Kristie James-Durflinger, the owner of Bridal Cottage, did not want to appear on camera, but said she is heartbroken and working with other bridal shops to replace dresses.
“I haven’t heard from them, so I am not really sure what to expect, I mean ideally I want to walk down my aisle with my wedding dress that I had picked out,” Adam said.
The building was so old crews say it didn’t have sprinklers, which is part of the reason the roof collapsed and made it difficult for fire officials to determine a cause.
“The structure is not safe to be entering at this time,” said Vince Wilcoxon, Assistant Chief of the Ottumwa Fire Department.
Crews say it took seven hours to mop up, and weather created obstacles for firefighters.
“The biggest factor of the weather would be the cold,” Wilcoxon said. “When you spray this much water, people’s gear freezes up, gas masks and hoods, visibility was their biggest concern.”
Adam is glad no one was hurt, but said her biggest concern now is replacing her dress.
“I don’t know if you can just replace a dress, I’m not sure, or how they’re going to compensate us for our loss,” Adam said.
Ottumwa Fire officials are not yet ruling out any cause, and officials expect to start an official investigation on Monday. Channel 13 has not yet heard back from James-Durflinger as to whether the company was insured.