BOONE, Iowa—An early morning house fire in Boone has damaged the Lighthouse, a residential shelter for Youth and Shelter Services. Emergency responders were on the scene and had blocked off and diverted traffic around the fire location at Mamie Eisenhower Avenue and Benton Street shortly after receiving the alarm about 3:40 AM Friday. The home serves as a shelter for young women and their families and had only one resident at home at the time of this mornings fire. Fire Chief Justin Adams says fire fighters attacked the fire aggressively and were able to locate the 17-year old victim within five or six minutes of arriving at the scene. Adams said Nyakuoth Chuol was found in the kitchen and was quickly removed from the house and taken by ambulance to the Boone County Hospital. Her body has been sent to Ankeny to the State Medical Examiners office for autopsy. Adams said the alarms system worked as it was supposed to and a passerby also saw flames and called 911. He said anytime a life is lost, fire fighters wonder what else they might have done to save that life.
George Belitsos, Chief Executive Officer of Youth and Shelter Services, owner of the Lighthouse, said they were shocked and saddened by the death of a client. Belitsos says several staff members took the loss very hard. He says it’s the first time in the 37 year history of YSS that a client has lost their life while participating in a YSS program. Belitsos says YSS is accepting contributions to cover the expense of funeral services for Chuol. He says the easiest way will be to donate through the website and identify that the donation should be used for the funeral service. Belitsos also says donations are being accepted for a second young woman, who with her 2-year old child were not at the shelter. However, all their possessions are considered a loss. He says YSS will relocated the young lady to an Ames residence, but will also accept assistance for her and her child. Because she is still a client, she is unidentified. Locally, Red Rock is helping to collect items for the young lady and her child. Kum and Go in downtown Boone is helping with the collection.
The Boone Fire Department is working with the State Fire Marshall’s Office to determine a cause for the fire.