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Federal, state, local officials investigate five-alarm fire

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MILWAUKEE -- People who live and shop near 12th and Vliet St. in Milwaukee are waiting for federal, state and local officials to wrap up their investigation into how a five-alarm fire started and destroyed a 120-year-old building.

Officials with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) say the investigation was expected to wrap up either late Friday or Saturday.

Jamal Silmi owns the store with his brother. He is glad no one was hurt in the fire Wednesday.

Now, nearly three days later, Silmi watches the investigation wondering what his future will be. He wonders where those in the neighborhood will be able to buy groceries.

"We always supplied them with their meat, their groceries. What can we do? Now I feel jobless," said Silmi Friday.

The heavy force of water that firefighters needed to battle the fire may have caused a water main break in the neighborhood. The city shut off water. That means while one branch of the federal government investigates the fire, another branch, the postal service, must bring in portable outdoor toilets.

In Oak Creek, police say they are still investigating a fire that happened on the same day as the Milwaukee fire. A house in Oak Creek burning. It belongs to the brother of the man who owns the burned building on Vliet St.

Witnesses say investigators were taking pieces of debris they assume for further testing and examination.

Officials with the ATF say there is some concern about the safety of the site for investigators to look around. That's why heavy equipment did a lot of the work.

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