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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Saturday, June 22, 2024
Apartment fire forces evacuations near Capitol Square

YWCA evacuated: Firefighter and police force evacuated people residing in the YWCA and surrounding buildings.

Apartment fire forces evacuations near Capitol Square

Residents of the Capitol Hill Apartment building on E. Mifflin St. were forced to evacuate early Thursday morning when it caught fire around 5 a.m.

Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, had a gloomy outlook as fire crews continued to battle the blaze around 11 a.m.

""Sadly I think the Capitol Apartments building is a total loss,"" Verveer said. ""I hate to say this, but I just don't know how many possessions might be salvageable later.""

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The basement of the building housed the Underground Kitchen restaurant, which opened last October. Employee Raine Streicher was disappointed with the probable loss of the restaurant, in which she said everything was custom made.

""I'm speechless,"" Streicher said. ""All of the work, and so much passion that went into that restaurant.""

Streicher also said she heard the fire began on the third floor, in an area where there are no smoke detectors. Madison Fire Department Spokeswoman Lori Wirth could not confirm or deny that claim, but said she thinks it will prove false.

Wirth recommended people go to different parts of the city or keep their windows closed due to the excessive smoke coming from the fire.

""It's been a really smoky fire,"" Wirth said. ""When I arrived this morning at 5 o'clock I couldn't see from one end of the block to the other, it was that thick.""

Wirth said the department received a call around 5 a.m., and responded immediately. As of 11 a.m., the department had moved to a defensive position due to a sagging roof and the continuing fire inside.

According to Wirth, the department is going to maintain the defensive position until they feel comfortable their firefighters would not be at risk. She said department policy tells them to only put firefighters in that position if there are lives at risk.

Wirth said they would focus on protecting the neighboring buildings up until that point. She expected a fire watch into the late evening and possibly overnight, due to concern of a new fire starting in a ""hotspot"" somewhere in the building.

One of the neighboring buildings, the YWCA building on the Capitol Square, was evacuated following a number of 911 calls about smoke problems.

Verveer said the residents will be taken to the Salvation Army until smoke problems are cleared up by the fire department.

""The only silver lining in this is that everybody, we think, got out safely and was okay,"" Verveer said.

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