UPDATED Saturday, August 9, 2014 --- 8:44 p.m.
Neighbors across the street from Friday's East Madison fire are grateful to Madison firefighters for saving their homes.
"It's unbelievable. You realize how close you came to losing everything," said Karin Hinkwitz.
The siding on Hinkwitz's home is melted off from the fire's heat, which firefighters estimated to be more than 250 degrees.
When 11 units of Madison Fire Department arrived on scene, the third and fourth stories of the apartment building were already starting to collapse. Knowing no one was in the building, firefighters shifted focus to the homes across the street.
"Our crew members know that we don't risk lives for property. We for sure risk lives for lives, and that's why they were focusing on this side of the street," said Madison Fire Division Chief Ernie Martinez.
Martinez said the apartment building was in the worst possible phase of construction for a fire.
"A few weeks later, it would have had drywall and would have been contained to a much smaller area, but it was like the perfect storm... a lot of lumber inside and obviously no sprinklers to protect it," he said.
Firefighters are working three-hour shifts throughout tonight to continue monitoring hotspots.
"There are four houses here that they saved. Driving home thinking I lost all of my son's things, all his baby clothes and pictures... is heart wrenching. And to know they were still here because of what [firefighters] did is awesome... and I can't say enough about the fire department. They did a fantastic job," Kinkwitz said.
UPDATED Saturday, August 9, 2014 -- 2:15 p.m.
Madison firefighters are still on the scene of last night's fire on Madison's east side.
Two crews were on fire watch overnight to battle any hot spots. Crews had the fire under control at 9:37 p.m. last night. The fire at the 105 unit apartment building that was under construction appears to be out, but there are pieces on the ground that continue to smolder. Engine Company #13 has taken over fire watch today.
Houses across the street had melted siding and cracked windows from the heat. The temperature from the fire reached more than 250 degrees where the firefighters were needed. 11 MFD units responded to the fire, including Fire Station #13.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Fire investigators are working with police and investigators from the State Fire Marshal's Office, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, which is a common practice at large fire scene.
Damages have not been calculated.
Fire investigators are asking for your help. If you have any photos or video of the fire prior to the fire department's arrival, call (608) 266-4420 and leave a name, phone number, and email address so they can be contacted by department officials.
The MFD expects to set up a website later today where photos and videos can be uploaded.
UPDATED Friday, August 8, 2014 -- 10:08 p.m.
Madison Fire Department Chief Steve Davis made a statement that people were evacuated out of their homes. The heat was so intense that they were not able to get as close to the fire as they wanted to. Between 7 to 10 homes had their siding melted from how hot the fire was.
At the moment, the fire is 90 to 95% contained. Reports of the structure fire were coming in from drivers on the highway at around 7:30 p.m.
O.S.H.A was on the scene because they heard reports of how big the fire was becoming. An investigation of how the fire started will begin tonight and continue all night long.
The contractor of the construction site is FMI Development.
UPDATED Friday, August 8, 2014 -- 9:00 p.m.
Madison Fire Department PIO Lori Wirth has told us it was a two alarm fire. There are no reports of injuries.
When firefighters arrived at the scene, the two top stories of the apartment building under construction on Apollo Way were engulfed in flames.
Wirth said, "Basically an entire city block was on fire."
Firefighters could feel the heat from more than block away. Four homes across the street had vinyl siding melt, and another home behind those homes also had damaged siding.
Fire is under control at this time, but still burning. The fire is not spreading to any other areas.
Two water towers have been set up to spray water.
The interstate is experiencing heavy smoke and may effect visibility.
All lanes are open for travel.
Posted on Friday, August 8, 2014 -- 8:31 p.m.
Dane County dispatch tells us that a structure fire occurred on Apollo Way and Lisa Ann Drive. The fire is in the GrandView Commons neighborhood.
We do have a crew on the scene.
We will update you on all the information once we receive it.