Firefighters battle fire at Grand Avenue apartment building

Firefighters battle fire at Grand Avenue apartment building

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RACINE — Racine firefighters were attacking a fire at a Grand Avenue apartment building Saturday night, and were seen using a battering ram to enter the building to search for possible occupants.

No injuries were reported as of 9:30 p.m., but the building appeared to have sustained heavy fire, smoke and water damage. At 10:01 p.m., the fire was declared under control, according to police scanner traffic.

Fire crews were called to the fire at 1045 Grand Ave. shortly after 8:30 p.m. Once on scene, they attacked the building from all sides of the three-story, partially brick structure with fire hoses. An aerial truck was used get to the higher floors, as firefighters sprayed water on the north side and through a broken window on third floor of building's the west side.

At 8:58 p.m., firefighters used a battering ram to break down the front door, after which they entered the building, presumably to search for possible occupants.

Bystander Maurice McCray said that earlier he saw flames shooting out of the roof of the building, but as of 9:05 p.m., no flames were visible from the street on the south and west sides. Insulation on nearby power lines could be seen burning and sparking, and firefighters also worked to extinguish those fires.

No occupants or injuries were reported, and only firefighters were seen exiting the building. A bystander said he knows someone who lives in the building; he believes the building has 12 apartments. In fact, the building contained six apartments.

At 9:11 p.m., firefighters wearing breathing apparatus could be seen going in and out of the building. Racine police officers were on scene, asking bystanders about possible residents of the building. McCray said he had not seen any possible occupants leave the building.

Broken windows were visible on the second and third floors, and a lot of smoke was pouring out of the building as of 9:15 p.m. as firefighters continued to attack the fire with water so forceful that it sprayed to the other side of the building at times.

By 9:26 p.m., activity at the scene had calmed down, with firefighters seen exiting the building with fire hoses. At 9:30 p.m., firefighters used an aerial truck to hover above the building and used a pole to poke into the roof, after which they attacked an area with a strong stream of water.

About 485 We Energies customers in the area were without power because the fire chief had asked the power company to de-energize the nearby power lines. We Energies spokesperson Cathy Schulze said the lines would be re-energized as soon as they get the go-ahead from the fire department. She expected the outage to be "short-lived."

The Racine Fire Bells were also on scene.

The apartment building is kitty-corner to the Miracle Center at 1100 Grand Ave.

Michael Burke and Ann Walter contributed to this report.

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