Milwaukee assisted living facility set on fire

Posted at 10:29 PM, Dec 08, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-08 23:29:01-05

More than a dozen people with special needs are getting help from the Red Cross, after their assisted living facility was set on fire Tuesday night. It happened on 35th street, just north of Florist Avenue, and caused more than $200,000 worth of damage.

"I caught one of our residents smoking in her apartment," says Michael Brown, a caregiver at the facility. "I took her cigarettes away because this is a smoke-free building, but I forgot to take the lighter. She ended up using it to set her bed on fire."

That's when Brown rushed to action.

"I ran to get the fire extinguisher," he says. "I got her out, then I ran to get all the others out of the building and called 911."

15 people live in the building, all have physical or mental disabilities. Thanks to Brown's quick-thinking, none of them were injured.

"We were also glad to see that there were working smoke detectors in the building," says Milwaukee Fire Battalion Chief Kenten Kais.

This is the second apartment building fire he and his team have fought in less than 24 hours.

On Monday night, they responded to a fatal blaze at 60th & Capitol Drive. The man who died in the fire did not have a working smoke detector in his apartment.

"It's a tragic reminder," Chief Kais says. "Smoke detectors have to be checked on a regular basis. And you always have to be aware of extension cords, Christmas trees, space heaters. Fire prevention is year round."

You can call the Milwaukee Fire Department's Smoke Detector Hotline to have one installed for free. That number is 414-286-8980.