Monona FD: One dead, multiple displaced after apartment fire

Published: Mar. 18, 2023 at 6:44 AM CDT|Updated: Mar. 19, 2023 at 10:16 AM CDT
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CITY OF MONONA, Wis. (WMTV) - A fatal fire at a Monona apartment complex is under control after multiple agencies responded early Saturday morning.

Monona Fire Department said crews found one person dead after the fire, though the cause of death has not been identified yet.

According to Monona Fire Department, multiple area crews were dispatched at 3:45 a.m. to the 300 block of Owen Road for a fire alarm. That alarm turned into a structure fire when multiple callers saw smoke and flames coming from a 70-unit apartment complex.

Officials said the second floor had heavy smoke and a Box Alarm was initiated six minutes after the initial caller. Multiple area crews responded to the scene at the Monona Hills Apartments.

Fire at apartment building in Monona
Fire at apartment building in Monona(Jeff Wagner)

Long-time resident Oscar Balderas said he was among the first to hear the commotion outside and leave the building, but he went back in to help his fellow residents.

“I am like that. I help. That’s me,” Balderas said. “If I can help you I’ll help you but I mean the people that live there are like my family. We’ve know each other for you know, a long time and we just have to help each other. It doesn’t matter what race you are, you have to become one people and I just helped them as much as I could.”

Neighbors say the fire started around 3 a.m., and reported seeing smoke pouring out of the building hours later.

“Most of the people in the building was like kind of disoriented because they was just waking up out of their sleep, so I just made sure that the ones that was behind me I told them ‘OK, follow me, come this way, watch your step, don’t fall,’ and then we got out and I stood on the side and I watched the roof for a little bit,” resident Kisiah Johnson said.

American Red Cross set up a shelter at nearby St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church for residents that were displaced. Shelter Supervisor Philip Maier said people have been coming and going throughout the day.

“For anyone, if you go through any tragedy of ay sort it can be multiple levels, it’s comforting to know you can go to some place that there are people there to kind of surround you and protect you and give you direction for where you can go for needs that you have immediately.”

In an update Saturday night, officials said the fire seems to have started unintentionally and that the building remains uninhabitable. As the investigation continues, damage estimates are likely to exceed $2 million.

Those who were impacted by the fire and need help are asked to call 1-800-236-8680.

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