The fire department said the "powerful" fire the took down a large apartment building last week on damaged more than a dozen nearby homes and melted parts of the fire engine.
Madison Fire spokeswoman Bernadette Galvez said Thursday that crews responding to the fire last Friday night worked to wet down homes near the four-floor structure that was emitting heat hot enough to melt parts of a fire engine and cracking windows in adjacent buildings. The fire at a building under construction on the 500 block of Apollo Way was initially reported by drivers seeing smoke and flames from Interstate 90 at about 7:30 p.m., officials said last week.
"The radiant heat from the fire was so intense that firefighter air packs were hot to the touch, fire gear started to melt and fire engine tires were smoking," Galvez said Thursday. "This powerful fire would burn any exposed skin if not covered."
Galvez said crews arriving to the scene could feel heat from the blaze 100 feet away through the fire engine windshield. Parts of the engine can be seen melted and warped in photos provided by the Madison Fire Department.
"They put their lives in danger to put themselves between the fire and homes with water protection, in fact, the two vehicles that first arrived actually had to put a water curtain on them to save their lives," MFD Division Chief Mike Dibble said.
Images of nearby homes showed melted, rippled siding the department said was caused by radiant heat.
"The fire department did a completely awesome job of containing that and turning the hoses on the houses, saving the homes across the street, but the heat was extreme," homeowner Steve Dwyer said. "They're going to have to swap out the entire window, they're going to have to re-side two sides of our entire home and then do some roof work, so it could take weeks."
Dwyer said the heat from the fire caused $7,000 in damage, and he was a block away.
The building complex that burned is a total loss estimated at $3.5 million to $5 million.
Dibble estimated that the department's brand new fire engine sustained $10,000 in damage.
The fire investigation continued Thursday, Galvez said.