MILWAUKEE — Boarded doors, windows, and charred brick. It is all that is left after a fire ripped through the downstairs unit of an apartment near 13th and Cleveland, killing a man and sending his wife to the hospital.
"I thought someone got shot or something, but it wasn't that. It was a fire,” said nearby resident Angel Pagan.
Pagan says he was at the apartments shortly before it caught fire around 1 a.m. Tuesday morning.
The medical examiner's office says 45-year-old Edwin Lund died in the fire. His wife Elizabeth was hospitalized.
"When I came from my house, about a half hou, it was crowded. Police and ambulances and... it was (a) fire in there,” Pagan said.
Fire officials believe a space heater in the living room could have been the cause.
"We use things like space heaters and you just have to make sure they're not too close to anything and they're used in a socket that can handle the amount of wattage it takes to run it,” said Russell Rivard, Chief of Operations, Milwaukee Fire Department.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, heating is the second leading cause of home fires.
Space heaters account for roughly 43 percent of those fires. The Milwaukee Fire Department notes cluttered conditions inside the home may have accelerated the flames.
"When we got there, it was pretty chaotic. A lot of fire and a lot of people were self-evacuating at the time," Rivard said.
The fire department says crews helped about 30 people escape. As the red cross works to help those impacted, Ascent, a property restoration company, is on hand to clean up what is left. They say two units were severely damaged.
"The smoke is getting out and everything is going to be back up and running,” said Joe Browley, project manager with Accent Property Restoration.
Only one other unit within the apartment needed to be evacuated. American Red Cross is working to help two people from that unit.
The fire remains under investigation.
Anyone with any information or who may be a witness to this incident is asked to contact Milwaukee Police at (414) 935-7360 or Crime Stoppers at (414) 224-TIPS or P3 Tips App to remain anonymous.