Crews from the Epworth and Farley Fire Departments, as well as the Dubuque County Sheriff’s Office, responded to a structure fire at Main Street and Center Avenue in Epworth at 11:19 a.m. Sept. 20.

The building houses Epworth Radio & TV, Cox Optical, the Pizza Factory and Heiberger Insurance, as well as one apartment on the upper level.

“I was over putting up an antenna, and I looked over this way and could see smoke coming out of the top of the building, said Dave Koerperich, owner of Epworth Radio & TV. Then I heard the firetrucks coming up.”

According to press release provided by the Epworth Fire Department, the couple who lived in the upstairs apartment had left and returned to find heavy smoke and flames atop of the stairwell in their apartment. The upstairs apartment suffered heavy heat and smoke damage and is considered a total loss, and the couple’s two cats perished in the fire. The American Red Cross of the Tri-States is assisting the upstairs tenants.

The four street-level businesses had smoke damage and some minor water damage. No damage estimate is available, and the cause of the fire has not been identified, although it is believed to have started in the area of the upstairs bathroom. The cause doe3s not appear to be suspicious at this time.

The press release reported 22 firefighters responded and remained on the scene for more than five hours. The Farley Fire Department provided mutual aid assistance with the county breathing air trailer.