WAUKESHA CO., Wis. (WMTV) – Six people were injured, including three firefighters, as a five-alarm blaze tore through a Waukesha Co. business on Thursday morning and caused a series of explosions for the first half-hour it burned.
Continued explosions are expected to continue occurring periodically throughout the day as firefighters battle to keep the flames from spreading, Asst. Chief Matt Hearter, of the Southeastern Wisconsin Incident Management Team, said.
Crews from multiple fire departments began responding to the Summerset Marine Construction Building, on Chapman Lane, in Eagle, around 7:44 a.m. after receiving the first report of an explosion.
Area businesses, as well as a elementary school, were evacuated as firefighters set up for defensive battle to quell the smoke and flames. A school official at the nearby Eagle Elementary School told Milwaukee NBC-affiliate TMJ4 that staff could feel the building shaking for a few seconds around the time of the first explosion. The students, who were not there at the time, have been safely relocated.
Everyone within a one-mile radius of the facility is asked to shelter-in-place, meaning that they should keep their windows shut and turn of the air conditioner to prevent outside air from getting indoors. Haerter said the affected people should have received an alert on their phone.
In general, he added, there is no danger to the community from the blaze.
He said there were no hazardous material involved and their concern is for the smoke in the area.
Of the three firefighters who were injured, Hearter said one needed to be taken to the hospital while two were treated at the scene. Among the other three individuals, one of them suffered serious injuries and was also taken to the hospital. The two others were treated at the scene. He did not say how the injuries occurred.
Haerter noted firefighters from as far away as Kenosha and Milwaukee counties have descended on Eagle to assist. He explained that their main role is not knocking down the fire, rather, it’s getting water to the scene. Without a sufficient water supply at the location, crews are filling their tanks from the Eagle municipal water system and two lakes and driving back to the burning building.
From the moment they arrived, Hearter said, firefighters knew this would be a defensive battle. The building is so heavily damaged that they were never going to be able to make it inside the metal-framed building, which had already suffered a major structural collapse in the first moments of the incident.
One worker at a nearby auto repair business told the Milwaukee news station about hearing an explosion and then seeing huge flames, which she described as something you’d see in the movies. She added that roads are blocked off and there is a lot of smoke in the air.
Another witness, at a drywall company, also described hearing the explosion before seeing smoke and flames. He said it sounded like a bomb went off and that he’s concerned about injuries, adding, “we have friends down there.”
The Summerset website states the facility spans 24,000 sq. feet and is a permanent factory direct location that provides lift and pier service installation, maintenance, and repairs.
Update on the large fire at a Waukesha Co. business on NBC15 News at 11 a.m.
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