Eleven people escape overnight apartment fire in Madison - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Eleven people escape overnight apartment fire in Madison

By Jamie Hersch - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MADISON (WKOW) -- A Madison fire causes $600,000 damage to a 4-unit apartment building on the east side around 1 a.m. Thursday.

All 11 residents are safe but lost everything but their lives in the fire.

Investigators are still looking into the cause of the fire, but they say this is a good reminder to everyone about the importance of insurance.

"The whole thing was just a blaze of fire. You just don't think it's ever gonna happen to you, so you never know," said Rory Jerome, who lives in the apartment complex next-door to the one that burned down.

Two of the families had renters insurance but the other two families are left wondering what's next.

"I mean, a tragedy like this and you don't have it, you're out. You have nothing," said Tonya Reed, whose daughter's home was destroyed by the fire.

This fire caused about $600,000 in damage. Compare that to the price of renters insurance, which you can get for about $10 a month.

"It's very cheap. It also provides assistance to the renter and protects them in case something they did damages the property," said Rod Shaughnessy, who works for the American Red Cross.

When crews arrived, flames were burning through the roof. Firefighters attacked the fire from the inside, but then exited the building so they could fight the fire defensively, where master streams from aerial ladders were used to help put the fire out. Once the building was safe to re-enter, firefighters extinguished spot fires throughout the structure.

American Red Cross reminds residents: many people do not understand what renters insurance can do for them. Insurance can assist in financial and emotional recovery from disasters. It replaces more than any community organization can provide. If you rent an apartment or a house, renters insurance will reduce the financial hardship of a fire, theft, or other disaster.

It may be cheap, but for many people it's just one more bill they can't afford.

"People live paycheck to paycheck and it's too hard. They can't afford it. They've got to save every last dime they got to get their next meal," said Reed.

Jerome recently cancelled her renters insurance because she didn't have the extra money.

Now, she's rethinking that decision.

"I guess I would prefer going without cable TV after this and afford renters insurance," said Jerome. "I'll be making two phone calls; one to the cable company and one to the insurance company."

Of course, insured or not, there are some things that can never be replaced after a fire, such as photos or memorabilia, which all four families have now lost forever.

The Red Cross is working with the families to find them housing, food and clothing, and a Good Samaritan has paid for two nights' stay for all four families at a hotel down the street.

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