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'We're breaking records': Milwaukee fire officials are overwhelmed by number of calls for service

"Fires are just happening more, and all of the causes have gone up."
Posted at 5:30 PM, Nov 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-22 18:30:01-05

MILWAUKEE — As temperatures begin to drop, calls for service are on the rise. Local fire officials say they are overwhelmed with the number of fires they are responding to. These tragedies lead to lost lives and homes.

Stacy Watson is dealing with a pain no parent should ever feel.

"When I opened that room door, it hurt me to the core because I knew I couldn't get my son out," Watson cried.

Sunday afternoon, Watson said her family was watching cartoons when she heard a loud boom and sizzling sound.

She ran upstairs and was overcome by thick smoke. That's when she realized her four-year-old Ja’ Rome Watson Clark wasn't with her.

Ja’ Rome Watson Clark
Family identified the victim as Ja’ Rome Watson Clark.

"As a mother, it hurts to lose a child," Watson said. "As a mother when you can't help your child, it hurts."

Milwaukee firefighters found Ja’ Rome inside the house and rushed him to the hospital, where he later died.

RELATED: 4-year-old boy killed in apartment fire in Milwaukee

"I don't care about this (home where they lived) because I can get this over again. I can never get my son back," she said.

Milwaukee Fire Chief Aaron Lipski's heart breaks for Watson and other families impacted by fires.

"It's horrendous we've got a lot of fires going on right now," Lipski stated. "We're breaking records we shouldn't be breaking."

Lipski said overall, run totals have significantly increased from previous years.

On Monday night, in less than three hours, crews responded to two fire calls.


One in Walker's Point at 6th and Pierce. You could see plumes of thick smoke billowing out of windows.

Later, crews went to an apartment fire near 38th and Lisbon. Twenty people were displaced in what investigators say was arson.

Just last week, a 68-year-old man was found in a burning home near 61st and Stark.

"Fires are just happening more, and all of the causes have gone up," Lipski said.

They range from being intentionally set to careless use of smoking materials.

But, the chief said there have been five space heater-related fires so far this year.

"With space heaters, please if you're going to use them, keep them away from any surfaces," he added.

The chief believes prevention is key to saving lives. He urges anyone without a working smoke alarm to contact the hotline at (414) 286-8980. Crews will come out and install it free of charge.

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