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Bayside fire victims get back on their feet thanks to community agencies

Posted at 12:40 PM, Apr 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-03 13:40:35-04

FOX POINT — Multiple agencies across the area are assisting Bayside fire victims get back on their feet. Saturday’s fire near North White Oak Lane and Port Washington Road wiped out an apartment building and resulted in nearly 20 balcony rescues.

“I remember thinking that I was really glad I had a balcony because I didn’t want to go down that stairwell,” Martha Reitman said.

All 62 apartment units went up in flames Saturday morning, just after midnight. North Shore Fire said the building only had a sprinkler system in its underground garage, one of the many reasons the fire spread so quickly.

“You never think the whole building’s going to go. So, we were there for like four hours just watching it burn,” Reitman said.

Reitman, like most of her neighbors, lost everything in the fire. That’s why Wednesday she turned to the multi-agency resource center (MARC) hosted by St. Eugene’s. Justin Kern of the Red Cross of Wisconsin said it’s a place to get everything from clothes to legal documents.

“People that are dealing with any number of issues related to the fire can come and get paperwork taken care of, make sure that they have all the resources available to them. If there’s financial assistance, they can get that,” Kern said.

Birth certificates and green cards also burned in the flames. Replacing a green card usually takes longer than a year. It’s also pricey, costing upward of $500, but the International Institute of Wisconsin is helping expedite the process.

With nearly a dozen organizations on hand, it gives fire victims, such as Reitman, a place to turn as she starts the process of moving forward.

“Some of those normal places they would go for support have also been affected, and so they need additional help and so that’s why we’re here," Pastor Alexis Twito said.

The MARC closes at 7 p.m. Wednesday, but the Red Cross and Salvation Army are available to assist victims as needed.