MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Fire Chief Aaron Lipski said firefighters "failed in protecting human dignity" after a city tow lot worker found the remains of a human being in a burnt vehicle that crews had extinguished earlier that Sunday morning.
The chief addressed the incident during a press briefing Tuesday afternoon. Lipski was emotional about what he described as a failure by responding firefighters to protect human dignity and provide grieving families some closure.
"The Milwaukee Fire Department takes its duty to protect life and property very seriously, respecting humanity and human dignity always. As we clearly did not locate the deceased victim on this scene, we failed in protecting that human dignity," Chief Lipski said.
“Our failure to locate this person deprived them of their dignity and I am deeply sorry for that," the chief said.
Watch the press briefing below:
The Milwaukee Fire Department released a statement on Monday, announcing that human remains were found inside a burnt vehicle near 77th and Green Tree on Sunday.
Milwaukee firefighters were dispatched to a vehicle fire at 6829 North 76th Street on Sunday around 5:40 a.m., where they found a fully engulfed vehicle and flames spreading to a one-story vacant rehabilitation center.
VIDEO: I took an extensive look at video showing the moments a vehicle caught fire with a woman inside near 76th and Green Tree.— Tony Atkins (@TonyAtkinsTV) January 11, 2022
It took nearly four hours before the woman's remains were discovered at the city tow lot. Tonight, I'm looking into what caused this oversight. pic.twitter.com/IKRP8HbZ0K
Once extinguished, around 6:11 a.m., the vehicle was towed to the Milwaukee tow lot at 3800 West Lincoln Ave., the fire department said. Around 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, over three hours after crews put out the fire, a lot attendant found what appeared to be human remains in the backseat of the vehicle.
This discovery is now being investigated by the Milwaukee Police Department and the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Chief Lipksi described the victim as a deceased fire victim, but he could not release details on how the person died. He said in his decades on the force, he has never experienced a person surviving a fully engulfed vehicle fire.
The chief said about 25 people were involved in responding to the fire.
Assistant Fire Chief Andrew Timm told TMJ4 News on Tuesday that MFD is doing an internal investigation while MPD conducts their own investigation.