Fires have claimed at least five lives during Wisconsin’s brutal cold spell. The most recent fatal blaze was an apartment fire in Waunakee that claimed the life of a 56-year-old woman. That fire is being investigated by the Dane County Sheriff’s Office, Waunakee Police, the Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigation and the ATF.
Waunakee Police were called to the 16-unit apartment building for a Lifeline alarm at 8:06 p.m. on and found the building fully engulfed in flames, according to a release from the sheriff’s office. Waunakee Fire and Deforest EMS also responded. The Dane County Medical Examiner will release the victim’s name following an autopsy scheduled for Thursday. A 65-year-old resident was transported to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
Approximately 10-15 other residents were evacuated and are either staying with family members or at a hotel provided by a local church. The apartment where the fire originated is a total loss, and several other units were damaged by smoke. Investigators believe the building sustained at least $100,000 in damage. Information on the cause of the fire will be released once the investigation is complete.
A 66-year-old woman pulled from her burning mobile home in the St. Croix County village of Roberts on Tuesday died Wednesday at Regions Hospital in Saint Paul. Two law enforcement officers entered the burning home to find Roberta Eastman. State trooper Robert Unruh used a gas mask to enter the mobile home, where he and Roberts police officer Todd Shafer found Eastman and got her out. A lighted cigarette may have caused the fire.
In the past three days, house fires have also killed one person each in Manitowoc, Racine, and the Jackson area. Fighting fires in brutally cold conditions poses a challenge to firefighters.