Crew staying overnight at fire scene downtown - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Crew staying overnight at fire scene downtown


MADISON (WKOW) – A Madison fire crew is staying overnight at the scene of a fire that started early Thursday morning at Capitol Hill Apartments.

They are still on the lookout for hot spots that flare up.

"I woke up, looked around and I smelled some smoke," Shayla Dvorak said.

The smoke was so thick you could hardly see past it.

Twelve hours later, streets opened up and some fire crews headed out, but the smoke continued.

Concerned citizens continued to call 9-1-1 late into the afternoon for a fire that first broke out at 5 a.m.

About 75 firefighters rotated throughout the day to battle the downtown blaze on North Webster.

"There is a heavy rubber membrane on the roof and it does a really good job of keeping the weather out," said Jim Keiken, an assistant fire chief with the Madison Fire Department.

Unfortunately, the material on the roof also did a good job of keeping firefighters' water out.

Heat added another challenge

"The heat is pretty tough on the firefighter," Keiken said. "The work is extremely difficult."

The fire left 27 people without a home tonight.

"I have friends. Three or four friends that have called, four or five that have texted," Tana Fenier said. "They will take care of me. I'm lucky."

Firefighters do not have an estimated cost of the damage yet. The building looks intact on the outside, but on the inside firefighters say there is not much left.

That is not something Jonny Hunter wants to hear. He is a co-owner of Underground Kitchen, a restaurant below the apartments.

"This place was such a labor of love," Hunter said. "Everyone had a commitment to the space… so it really hurts."

Friends say they are already trying to raise money to get the restaurant back up and running.

"You can see the community already banding together," said Peter Benk, a friend of the Underground Kitchen owners. "It is very important to me that they know we are all standing with them."

Firefighters say people probably will not get a look at the damage inside for a few days.

Investigators will be back at the scene on Friday to figure out what caused it

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