Possible arson leaves family of six without a home

Ottumwa Police and Fire Departments are investigating what they believe is an arson at a house on North Court Street.

Ottumwa Police and Fire Departments are conducting a joint investigation into what they believe is an arson.

Just before 12:00 a.m. on Tuesday, the Fire Department received a call to a residence on North Court Street. Five children and their mother were home at the time of the fire, and though there were no working fire alarms inside the house, they all made it out safely.

The Ottumwa Fire Department said there was an obvious sign indicating arson, and they are asking for residents' help in identifying the person or persons responsible.

"At this time, we're asking if anyone has any leads or information regarding this fire if they could give the Ottumwa Fire Department or Ottumwa Police Department a call, also there's a reward available through the State Fire Marshall's Office and you can call the arson hot line," said Deputy Fire Chief Cory Benge.

Those numbers are 683-0667, 683-0661 and 1-800-532-1459, respectively.

The Ottumwa office of the American Red Cross is helping out the victims of the fire. While they do not take clothing or material donations, they can provide the family with both their short-term and long-term needs.

"We're always looking for monetary donations to offset some of the costs," said Brandon Holstrom, of the American Red Cross. "We did provide the family with food, shelter and clothing on a client assistance card. We're also looking at some of their long-term needs, we help them out with rent or deposit in addition."

Holstrom said the Red Cross will typically provide assistance for three to five days, and then look into providing long-term support for up to a month after an incident.