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Overnight fire in Waukesha forces evacuation of entire apartment complex

Posted: 6:25 AM, Nov 27, 2017
Updated: 2017-11-27 18:20:24Z

WAUKESHA -- An overnight fire caused major damage to the Rivercrest apartment complex in Waukesha. 

The fire sparked just after midnight on the third-floor balcony of the building on W. St. Paul Avenue. 

“There were just flames shooting out of the balcony," Mari Colaiacomo said. “There were quite a few firemen basically running down the street into this building and as we watched I think the roof essentially collapsed."

According to the Waukesha Fire Department, the fire started on the top floor and quickly spread to the roof of the 20-unit apartment building. Colaiamcomo lives in a neighboring apartment complex and said she was terrified of what she saw. 

"I have certainly seen fires before, but never one that looked like it would possibly engulf the entire top of an apartment building," she said. "We were mostly afraid for whoever lives in these apartments."

Despite the damage, everyone safely evacuated the building with assistance from the Waukesha Police Department.

Albert Rodriguez said he almost slept through the fire, but police kicked in his door and helped him and his family escape. 

“We just went outside and we started seeing smoke coming out of the apartments and I was just amazed," Rodriguez said. 

The Waukesha Fire Department tamed the flames about an hour after the fire started. Several apartments sustained water damage, and one person was treated on scene for smoke inhalation. 

Although the Red Cross assisted all those who were displaced, many of the tenants hope to return to their homes sooner than later. 

“I hope we can come back," Rodriguez said. "I don’t know how long that’ll take."

The cause of the fire is still under investigation by the City of Waukesha Fire and Police Departments.

Stay with TODAY’S TMJ4 for further updates on this developing story.