Couple's Actions Help Prevent Tragedy in Apartment Fire

Two firefighters receive minor injuries and dozens of residents are displaced after fire significantly damages building Saturday afternoon.

The residents of an apartment building at the corner of Coolidge and Scott avenues made it out safely, thanks to the quick-thinking actions of Waukesha resident Debra Rollins and her husband, Kirk.

When she first smelled the fire, she thought it was wood burning or grilling nearby. She saw a small flame and her husband grabbed a fire extinguisher while she called 911. The couple then ran on both floors of the apartment building to alert the neighbors. While she admits she was terrified, she knew she had to get them out of the building.

“I didn’t want to lose nobody,” Rollins said with tears in her eyes. “Even though I don’t talk to them, still, I wanted to get them out.”

The 12-unit building went up in flames Saturday afternoon, soon after everyone was out, she said. The fire is now out but residents are faced with charred belongings.

“It just started to get out of control,” she said. “The little that we saw – the fire extinguisher took care of it. It just got worse.”

Firefighters are on scene and investigating the fire. American Red Cross authorities on scene were told by the Waukesha Fire Department that no one will be able to return to the building Saturday.

Two firefighters received minor injuries at the scene, according to Battalion Chief Joe Vitale.

All five fire stations responded to what Vitale described as a “pretty stubborn” fire.

“We had pretty heavy fire in the attic space,” he said.

The fire remains under investigation by the Waukesha Police Department and Waukesha Fire Department.

Patch will have more information as it becomes available.

Amy Riddle April 07, 2012 at 09:26 PM
I was witness to this devastating fire. I hope all the residents can rebuild their lives from this unfortunate event. They are in my thoughts and prayers.
Tracy Craft April 07, 2012 at 09:48 PM
I wondered what that smell was this morning. I am glad that everyone is okay.


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