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Fire damages historic Milwaukee building set to help the needy

Posted at 9:16 PM, Dec 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-05 06:04:26-05

Work to redevelop a historic downtown Milwaukee building sparked a damaging fire Monday night. 

The building was being restored to help those in need get back on track. 

Smoke billowed through the building at 10th and State Streets around 5 p.m. Monday.

"We found fire on every floor between the first floor all the way up to the top floor," said Milwaukee Fire Deputy Chief Aaron Lipski. 

He said it was an extremely dangerous fire to fight since the building was under construction and there were holes in the floors.

"In the thick smoke it's very, very dangerous to move too fast," Lipski said.
Nearly two dozen fire trucks were called in to help put it out. No one was hurt. 

There are questions about the damage the fire cause because the building itself has a bigger mission. It is called the St. Anthony Project. It will become transitional housing on the upper floors and Capuchin Community Services will use the lower floors.

"We'll have a laundry mat, barbershop, a gathering space for a 120 people so they won't have to stand outside in cold weather anymore," said Br. Rob Roemer of Capuchin Community Services.

He said the construction work on the building sparked the fire. But Roemer said the structure appears to be O.K. and most of the fire caused smoke damage. So he thinks construction will stay on time.

"There's hungry people and there are people looking for housing so we want to get it finished before the cold weather starts for next year so people can get indoors," Roemer said.

The St. Anthony Project will have 60 apartment units for people in need of transitional housing, plus a health clinic. It is expected to open in October 2018.