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Around 100 displaced after large apartment fire in Brown Deer

The cause has not been determined, but people on scene claimed there was a lightning strike
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Posted at 5:51 PM, Aug 20, 2022

BROWN DEER — Around 100 people won't be able to return home tonight after a large fire on Saturday in Brown Deer. Officials say no one was injured.

North Shore Fire Department responded to the blaze shortly after 4 p.m.

Battalion Chief Dan Tyk said when crews arrived on the scene, the fire was breaching the roof. Firefighters quickly began an aggressive interior attack but had to pull out. They then switched to a defensive operation.

Watch: A viewer sent us a video of a portion of the roof collapsing.

Crews battle large apartment fire in Brown Deer

North Shore Fire said the fire was out in about fifty minutes.

Part of the management team at River Place Apartments, who spoke with fire officials, said residents will be displaced from about 40 units.

An initial report from officials was that 200 people would be displaced due to a large portion of the building not having electricity. However, a restoration crew arrived last night to restore power.

Ten of the 40 units are uninhabitable due to fire damage. The others can not be used due to smoke or water damage, or because the specific area of the building does not have power.

"Just sad. Frustrated. I cried, cause not knowing what I was going to come home to," said Stacey Patterson, who was picking up her mother from the hospital when she learned her apartment building was on fire.

Patterson said her unit was damaged by smoke and possibly water.

"I'm just glad we're OK, and everybody's safe. All that [personal possessions] can be replaced. I'm just glad everybody got out OK, and that we're all fine," she said.

Patterson and her family will be staying in a hotel. Another resident, Samantha Brandt, will be staying with family. Her actions on Saturday likely saved lives.

Brown Deer residents deal with apartment fire aftermath, nearly 100 displaced

"I saw the flames in the corner, and I pulled on the alarm. I noticed the hallway's lights were off. Everything was dark. So I started banging on doors," she said.

At one point, Brandt turned face-first into a wall, she said. A nurse took a look at her nose and decided it wasn't broken.

"It's been a really long week," Brandt said.

A spokesman for the Red Cross said teams have been working to establish a shelter for the night. Spokesman Justin Kern said the shelter opened at 10 p.m. at Brown Deer Elementary School, 5757 W. Dean Rd.

An official cause of the fire has not been determined, but Tyk said it appears it could be related to a lightning strike.

Resident Carl Erby saw some of the worst of the damage after the roof completely collapsed in his bedroom.

"Right now it's uninhabitable," said Erby.

The blaze created a haunting aftermath for residents as they navigated through dark and damp hallways hoping to gather any belongings that were left.

A few doors down, Tommy Henderson and his family who recently moved into the complex were in shock as they maneuvered through the damage.

"I just moved up from Illinois. In just two and half months I lost half of my stuff," said Henderson.

Water damage flooded through Henderson's home, destroying many of his electronics and furniture.

"Everything else is somewhat decent so see what's working and we move from there, insurance can take care of the rest. I mean we lost a few things but like I said it's nothing compared to what we could have lost," said Henderson.

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