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Ashley Stewart / ASHLEY STEWART, The Globe Gazette 

The Mason City Fire Department responds to a house fire on North Tyler Avenue Friday afternoon.


Local
breaking featured
Updated: One person dead after fire destroys Mason City home (with photos, video)

MASON CITY | A fire destroyed a home and killed one person in the 900 block of North Tyler Avenue Friday afternoon.  

Mason City Fire Capt. Jack Odegaard confirmed Friday afternoon that one person died in the house where the fire occurred. He added he could not provide any more information, pending the department's investigation.

The person's identify has not been released. 

Ashley Stewart / ASHLEY STEWART, The Globe Gazette 

A house on the 900 block of North Tyler Avenue in Mason City was destroyed in a fire Friday afternoon.

Neighbors told the Globe Gazette they thought the fire — which engulfed the back of the house in flames — started shortly after noon.

Ervin State, 88, said he called 911 about 12:10 p.m.

“I could see flames coming out the back door," he said. "There was a whole lot of smoke.”

Melody Pearce, 64, who has lived on the block for more than 40 years told a similar story.

Photos: Mason City house fire on North Tyler Avenue

"My husband saw it first ... there were really bad flames that engulfed the back of the house," she said.

Pearce said a man who lived on the block died from a heart attack this week. She said it's a tight-knit block.

"How much more can this neighborhood take?" she said.

State, who has lived on the block for more than 60 years, said he hasn’t seen a fire in town this bad in years.


Local
breaking top story
Body discovered in rural Charles City

CHARLES CITY | A body has been discovered in rural Floyd County amid an investigation into the disappearance of a Grundy Center man who has been missing for more than a month.

The body hasn’t been identified, but officials with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation said it was found Friday near 290th Street and Shadow Avenue, about 10 miles south of Charles City.

DCI officials said this was the area where law enforcement had previously requested the public’s assistance regarding the missing person from Grundy County.

Michael Bruce Johns, 28, was reported missing Oct. 26. He was last seen in an area between Greene and Charles City around 6 a.m. Oct. 25.

DCI said earlier this week that the suspect foul play in Johns’s disappearance.

Anyone with information about activity in the area of 290th Street and Shadow Avenue around October 25 is asked to call the Floyd County Sheriff’s Office at 641-228-1821.


Crime-and-courts
top story
Six indicted in meth, money laundering probe involving drugs mailed to Mason City, Lake Mills

A federal grand jury has returned a drug and money laundering indictment against six people in connection with an investigation that spanned Mason City, Waterloo and other Iowa communities.

The government is seeking forfeiture for a rural Gladbrook home as well as $350,000 in cash.

The indictment charges Michael Pineda, Samuel Arias, Brandon Neil Harders, Robert Lewis and Jeffery “Slim” Westberg with conspiracy to distribute meth.

Janeth Pineda, Michael Pineda and Arias are charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering, and Harders, 44, of Lincoln, formerly of Waterloo and Gladbrook, is also charged with possession of meth with intent to distribute in connection with a Sept. 9, 2016, incident.

The Pinedas are married and live in Chula Vista, California, and Arias is Michael Pineda’s stepfather and lives in Tijuana, Mexico, according to court records.

The seven-page indictment was returned on Nov. 15 but it remained sealed until Wednesday after Waterloo police and Tri-County drug investigators arrested Harders and Westberg. Westburg appeared in U.S. District Court in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, and Harders appeared on Wednesday. Both pleaded not guilty.

Agents with the Department of Homeland Security arrested Michael Pineda, Janeth Pineda and Arias in California on Monday as Arias was attempting to enter Mexico, court records state.

Michael Pineda, who operates an automobile accessories business, was in custody in California with bond set at $30,000 and was about to be released, but an order issued Friday by a federal judge in Iowa stayed the planned release.

Court records allege the group was involved with meth distribution between the summer of 2013 until August 2015.

During the investigation, authorities seized several large caches of currency including $6,900 from Harders during an August 2013 traffic stop in Waterloo; $32,000 from Michael Pineda in a Coralville hotel in September 2014; $21,150 from Harders at a Kennedy Lane address in September 2014; $50,650 from Harders at an Ansborough Avenue address in September 2014; and $18,210 from Harders in Gladbrook in September 2016, court records state.

Harders’s home on 120th Street in Gladbrook is identified in the forfeiture list.

According to court records, investigators with the Mason City Drug Task Force intercepted two FedEx packages in January 2014 that contained a total of 7 pounds of ice meth hidden inside car audio components. One package had been sent to a Mason City address, and the other was destined for Lake Mills, records state. Investigators were able to obtain surveillance images from the FedEx store in California showing Arias sending the packages, records state.

In September 2014, Michael Pineda allegedly came to Iowa to deliver meth to Harders at a Coralville hotel, record state. Harders was stopped on Interstate 380 after it left the hotel and was headed back to Waterloo, and a search of his vehicle turned up a plastic bag that contained a car audio component that, in turn, contained about three pounds of meth, records state. Authorities then searched Michael Pineda’s hotel room and seized $32,000 in cash, records state.

Tri-County Drug Enforcement Task Force officers also searched Harder’s Gladbrook residence in September 2016 after an officer found 3 grams of meth and $1,600 in cash during a traffic stop. At his home, they found meth, $18,210 in cash, digital scales, vape inserts suspected of containing hash oil, and a Polaris ATV that was stolen from Hardin County, according to court records.

During the investigation, officers worked with an undercover source to make $12,000 worth of payments for meth purchases, which involved depositing money into various bank accounts that included an automobile audio equipment business, records state.


Local
Cheer Fund donations: Friday, Dec. 1

Today’s total: $1,960

To-date total: $16,033

To reach goal: $108,967

Linda Lenz, in memory of my husband Rob Lenz who enjoyed watching our grandchildren open their gifts every year, $100

Joan K Eness, in memory of Vergil Eness and Kathleen and Leslie Valentine, $75

Lyneette Lewis, in loving memory of my husband Terry, 25

Bob and Cynthia Siemons, in memory of deceased loved ones, $25

Glenn and Rose Brady, in memory of our parents, $50

Robert Okerstrom, $25

Phyliss Preftakes, in memory of Alex Preftakes, Michael Preftakes and Delores Wagner, $50

Karl and Sherrie Johnson, in memory of Eugene Smidt, $20

Richard and Carol Jass, in memory of loved ones, $20

Frank and Marguerite Brcka, $75

Ron and Gwen Nedved, in memory of our families and friends, $25

Tel and Barbara Pappajohn, $100

Allan and Marta Eenhuis, $35

Marvin and Lois Crooks, in loving memory of our daughter Tammy Crooks, $25

Marvin Alphs, $10

Marilyn Strike, for those in need, $275

Eugene Dankbar, in memory of Ruth, $100

M J and J M, in memory of Dad and Mom, $30

Alice Gratias, in memory of Art Gratias, $100

Lulu Brown, in memory of Art Gratias, $25

Janice Cooper, in memory of my husband Dick Cooper, $25

Barb and Earl, in memory of our loving parents, $25

Patrick and Roxanne Ropella, $100

Sue and Mike Beukema, in memory of our dads, $25

Ruthann Reimers, $25

Nancy Gunther, in memory of Lynn (Tex) and Louise Pearson and Lynne Wisman, $100

Willard and Barb Krabbe, in loving memory of our parents James and Leona Krabbe, Aage and Johanna Christensen and our four granddaughters Megan, Nicole, Jessica and Angela, $200

Bob and Myrna, in honor of parents, $20

Mike Evans, in memory of brother Dave, $100

Dennis Dischler, $50

Jim and Rita Foley, in memory of Tony and Irma Magnani, $50

In memory of Katelyn Marie Halloran, $50


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