ANKENY, Iowa — The owner of a home that caught fire in Ankeny on Thursday is calling on the city to improve response times for emergency personnel. Jenny Bolton’s family home was severely damaged by a fire after a lightning bolt struck in their backyard around 7:00 a.m. Thursday.

Everyone got out of the home safely.  Due to a series of road construction projects around the property on 1003 Williamsburg Drive, there is only one way in an out of the housing development on the northeast edge of Ankeny.

“We are concerned because it’s the second fire in our neighborhood, since the road closures,” said Bolton. “We have one way in and one way out, due to the road closures, and it took over 10 minutes for the first fire crew to get out to our house, so that’s been a big concern.”

Bolton added that if one bridge had been open near their house, they may have had a different outcome to the fire.

The fire did heavy damage to their home’s garage. The family will be looking for a place to stay for around eight or nine months while their home is repaired.

“Response times have been a concern for the whole neighborhood for all emergency personnel and we’ve voiced it to the city many, many times and it’s gone on deaf ears,” said Bolton.

A news release from the City Fire Department said it took 10 minutes for the first crews to respond.  Three Ankeny fire stations sent units to the two-alarm fire. 

 “The Ankeny Fire Department responded as quickly as possible, but there were a few factors that contributed to the response time, which included rush hour traffic, heavy rain conditions, and road construction in the area,” said Deputy Fire Chief, and Public Information Officer, Daniel  Schellhase. The crews did not use the emergency response route as this was just recently completed and due to the heavy rain, there was concern about conditions of the route and not being able to get through.”

The incident was quickly upgraded to a second alarm, which dispatched additional resources from Altoona, Bondurant, Johnston-Grimes, and Polk City fire departments.

The Ankeny Fire Department arrived on the scene in just over 10 minutes and found heavy smoke coming from the attic of the house and a fire in the garage. Crews immediately began to extinguish the fire and were able to contain the fire very quickly.  There were no injuries to the homeowners, nor responders.