Sunday, December 20, 2009 - 6:23am
Fire damaged a downtown apartment and displaced one student this morning at 444 Hawthorne Court. The small, second floor apartment was heavily damaged by fire and smoke while several other apartments and one business received minor smoke and water damage.
Firefighters were dispatched to the fire at 8:51 AM and arrived within five minutes. When the fire attack crew entered the apartment with their hoseline, they were met by heavy smoke that was banked down to the floor. Another crew broke the windows on the State Street side of the building to clear out the smoke for the attack crew. The fire was under control seven minutes after firefighters arrived on scene.
A complete search of the apartment confirmed that nobody was inside at the time of the fire. All occupants in the 24-unit apartment building escaped without injury.
The apartment was equipped with new smoke alarms that meet Madison's smoke alarm ordinance. People in the building heard the smoke alarms sounding in the apartment and were able to evacuate safely.
The property owner credits the tamper resistant smoke alarms with a 10-year battery for insuring the occupants received early warning of the fire. She stated batteries can be easily removed from standard smoke alarms, rendering them useless in a fire. This is not possible with alarms that meet the city's smoke alarm ordinance. The outcome of today's fire could have been much worse without functioning smoke alarms.
Damage is estimated at $25,000 and the cause of the fire is under investigation.
Firefighters remind everyone of these safety tips:
• Install smoke alarms on every level of the home, in each bedroom, and outside each bedroom. Interconnected smoke alarms will make sure the alarm is heard throughout the home.
• Test your smoke alarms every month.
• Have a home escape plan and practice it twice a year.
• When the alarm sounds, get out and stay out.
• After you have escaped, call 9-1-1 from a safe place.
• Never go back inside the building for any reason.
- Eric Dahl, 608-279-7148