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      Fire crews battle downtown blaze

      El Rancho Grande Restaurant fire Tuesday morning

      UPDATE --

      It was around midnight Tuesday when fire crews were dispatched to the popular Mexican restaurant El Rancho Grande at Main and Jefferson Streets only to find the building in flames.

      ??I??m coming down the Jefferson St. and all I see is heavy black smoke which means they got an intense fire inside the building and upon arrival we did a 360 -- took a tour around the entire building and realized we were going to be here for a long time because as heavy as this smoke was -- we knew they had some pretty intense fire inside which is what the case was. We went for about three, three and a half hours. We were put in offensive attack on this. The construction of the building, it went up an elevator shaft. It went from the basement to the top floor. Once it got into the top floor, we were chasing the fire around. We had the problem of chasing the fire around and then it went through the roof. Once it went through the roof we knew we were going to be here a long time and then we went to a defensive mode where we protected the exposures that were nearby. We think it started in the basement but right now it's still under investigation so once we get inside the take a good look we can maybe have a better chance of finding out what happened,?? Chief Tony Miller, Ottumwa Fire Department.

      And around 3 a.m. there was a house fire at 808 E. Pennsylvania where around half of the crew had to tend to that fire. At that point the Wapello County Rural Fire Department was called in for backup.

      ??We got to that house within around approximately two minutes, mitigated the situation and had them come down to the Jefferson fire to assist over there,?? said Chief Deputy Cory Benge, Ottumwa Fire Department.

      Luckily there were no injuries at either fire. The investigation in still pending for the fire at El Rancho Grande.

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      The Ottumwa Fire Department continues to battle a fire at a downtown restaurant.

      Fire crews were called to the El Rancho Grande Restaurant just after midnight Tuesday to find the popular eatery in flames.

      El Rancho Grande sits just off the Jefferson Street Bridge, on Main Street.

      Fire officials say no one was inside the building at the time of the blaze and there are no reports of injuries.

      According to a department spokesman, the effort to combat the fire was hindered when some firefighters had to leave the scene in the middle of the night to respond to a house fire on Pennsylvania.

      That fire was apparently started by a clothes dryer.

      The dual fires required the Ottumwa Fire Department to request help from the Wapello County Rural Fire Department.

      After getting the residential fire under control, all crews returned to the blaze at El Rancho.

      As of 8 a.m. Tuesday morning, fire fighters were still on the scene at Jefferson Street, and expected to be there until sometime early Tuesday afternoon.

      At this time, no cause for the El Rancho Fire has been released.