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56-year-old woman dead, 50 displaced in Cudahy apartment fire

Posted at 9:58 AM, Aug 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-17 01:05:40-04

CUDAHY — A 56-year-old woman is dead and 50 people are displaced after a fire at an apartment complex in Cudahy Sunday morning. Five others were taken to the hospital, including a firefighter for heat exhaustion.

Fire Chief Dan Mayer said the call came in around 7:15 a.m. for smoke inside Lakeshore Tower Apartments off Lake Drive.

When crews arrived, they saw smoke coming from the 10th floor on the south side of the building. Many residents had already evacuated.

Mayer said the fire was contained to one unit, where the woman was found dead.

“It appears to have started in the kitchen, living room area and extended to the bedroom,” Mayer said.

The cause remains under investigation, but there was a lot of water and smoke damage, which will put 50 people out of the building for the moment. The complex is home to about 300 residents, including Toni Frioui.

Frioui was asleep when she woke up to the sound of the fire alarm in the hallway, and opened her door.

“I just saw the wall of smoke. I mean it’s just solid smoke, I had never seen anything like that before,” Frioui said.

She knew she had to leave.

It wasn’t until she got outside that she saw flames.

“It was just like, ‘oh my god, it’s a good thing I got out of the building,’” Frioui said.

After learning one of her neighbors lost their life, Frioui can’t help but think about their family.

“I feel bad you know for anyone that didn’t make it,” Frioui said.

Mayer said it took about an hour to put the fire out with the help of more than 100 firefighters. He said they faced multiple challenges, including the heat and a lack of room to set up in the parking lot. Their ladders also weren’t long enough to reach the apartment unit, so they had to use the stairs and elevators of the building.

Mayor Tom Pavlic released a statement on the fire, offering his condolences to the victim and their family, and thanking the fire and police departments that assisted at the scene. He said they included departments as far as Racine County. He also thanked the Milwaukee Fire Bell Club for distributing food and water to first responders, as well as a city resident who provided water to those displaced by the fire.

The Red Cross said it’s assisting people from seven units of the building for shelter and basic needs. The agency is still connecting with others who may need help.