UPDATE: 911 pre-alerts implemented in Fitchburg apt. fire response

By: Madeline Anderson Email
By: Madeline Anderson Email

Updated Saturday, May 24, 2014 --- 9:40 p.m.

One unit is destroyed and at least two others are damaged after a fire broke out in an eight unit apartment building in Fitchburg.

Just before 2:00 a.m., crews were called to a report of flames and smoke coming from a second floor balcony at 1104 Whispering Pines Way.

Beginning this month, Dane County 911 center dispatchers must send emergency responders pre-alerts when there could be a life-threatening situation. The new protocol comes amid the ongoing debate about slow response time, and what can be done to improve it. In the case of Saturday morning's fire, firefighters say it gave them a jump start on getting out the door. While dispatchers were still on the phone gathering information, they sent out a pre-alert to Fitchburg Fire and EMS

"At about 1:52 in the morning we got the pre-alert, which kind of said, heads up, you're possibly going to a structure fire, and then within two minutes of that, we got the rest of the formal page for the rest of the assignment to go to the structure fire," said Fitchburg deputy fire chief Richard Roth.

Within a half hour, fire fighters evacuated all 8 units and knocked down the fire.

"I was asleep like most people would be at about 1:00 in the morning. Fitchburg Police kicked in my door and woke me up because I'm a heavy sleeper," said Kris. He's among the 12 or so tenants who have been displaced.

Fortunately, no one was hurt, and the 30-year-old's apartment was spared. But he's staying at his parents' place in Verona until the electricity is turned back on in the building.

"I feel extremely lucky I got out safe and none of my items were damaged," Kris said.

In a situation where every second counts, Roth says the pre-alerts may not be the solution to the response time debate, but they're certainly a step in the right direction.

"It doesn't hurt, let's put it that way," Roth said. "It starts to get people to respond."

Investigators are still working to determine the cause of the fire. They think it could have stemmed from when someone tossed a used cigarette into a trash can on a second floor balcony.

Posted Saturday, May 24, 2014 --- 4:45 a.m.

Several residents at a Fitchburg condominium complex were evacuated after an early morning fire.

The fire broke out just after 2 a.m. Saturday morning at the Whispering Pines Condominium Complex. According to firefighters it started on a second floor deck and spread to the roof. Only one unit at the complex was damaged.

No one was injured and the cause of the fire is under investigation.

The Red Cross is assisting residents who have been displaced.

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