WINDSOR HEIGHTS, Iowa-An arson fire which destroyed the Windsor Heights outlet of Flatt Tire Centers July 2, deflated the dealership's plans for expansion. But it hasn't flattened its resolve to resume operations in early August. Fire investigators believe a flammable liquid was used on a rack of tires outside the building housing Flatt Tire's offices.
The fire engulfed the building and spread to a nearby multi-business building where it caused extensive damage to Flatt Tire's two service bays and an auto windshield repair business.
Firefighters responded to the fire at about 12:30 a.m. July 2 and spent two hours bringing under control the blaze that engulfed two racks of tires and ignited two gas lines.
The fire also caused heat damage to the side of a neighboring 12-unit apartment complex, which had to be evacuated.
Damage estimates total about $450,000, according to Windsor Heights Fire Chief Al Hunter. There are no suspects in the arson fire, which is still under investigation by the fire department and the state fire marshall's office, he said.
Meanwhile, Flatt Tire, which has its main store in Des Moines, is preparing to move its satellite operation into a three-bay unit of the neighboring building being vacated by another business.
Owner Jordan Flatt said the new location will be bigger-``but it's not how I wanted it to happen.'' He said the destroyed outlet was under-insured and the tragedy has set back his plans to open a third outlet for another three years.
Mr. Flatt said he decided to maintain the second outlet because ``it's a good location. Business has been great and it's established.''
The dealership sells Cooper, Multi-Mile and Michelin brand tires and tire service.
Until business resumes in Windsor Heights, some of the store's customers have been travelling across town to the Des Moines location-``where we prove to customers that `you, too, can ride on a Flatt,' '' Mr. Flatt said.