Local News

Dozens displaced in University Avenue fire

One wing of Casa Blanca apartments is beyond repair

MADISON, Wis. - Three people were injured and dozens were evacuated late Saturday night during an apartment fire on University Avenue, officials said.

Crews responded to reports of a fire at the Casa Blanca apartment building at 2302 University Ave. just before midnight and saw smoke billowing from the eastern section of a three-story apartment building, according to a release.

Officials said dozens of people were evacuated and there were reports of at least one person trapped inside.

Crews observed two people on the third floor who were unable to evacuate through the smoke and fire on the first and second floors, according to the release. Those two people were rescued from a third-floor window.

Firefighters also helped a first-floor occupant who was just making his way to the front door when they arrived, officials said. He was transported to UW Hospital.

Two firefighters were also transported to UW Hospital, where they were treated and released.

Crews noticed a number of occupants exhibiting some signs of smoke inhalation, so paramedics set up a medical triage area to assess possible injuries, but no other occupants needed to be transported, officials said.

The fire was put out by 12:05 a.m. and the building required extensive overhaul as the firefighters checked open spaces in the hallways, according to the release. The apartment building has three segments separated by a hallway. Residents from two of the building sections were allowed back into their apartments, but residents from the third section, where the fire is believed to have started, will not be able to live there for the foreseeable future.

Lori Wirth, public information officer with the Madison Fire Department, said between 20 and 30 residents have been displaced by the fire.

Officials said the property managers established a fire watch overnight until the building's alarm system could be reset.

Forty-eight firefighters and paramedics, Madison police, UW police and Vice Provost for Student Life and Dean of Students Lori Berquam reported to the scene to assist students, according to the release.

"We've certainly seen houses where a group of three, four, or five students are impacted, this is five times that number and the devastation is pretty clear," said Berquam. "And there was no loss of life and for that we're grateful, but there is still  loss here."

Berquam's office has information about counseling, crisis loans ,and other resources, all available by calling 608-263-5700.

The American Red Cross is assisting those in need in finding temporary housing.

The investigation into the cause of the fire and an estimate of damages is still ongoing.

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