Fire badly damages West Allis funeral home

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WEST ALLIS -- A well known business and landmark goes up in flames. A fire tore through a West Allis Funeral Home around 10 Friday night. Several fire crews from surrounding areas put the fire out quickly. But between fire, water and smoke-- officials estimate nearly $300,000 worth of damage.

Flames shot through the roof of Schramka-Borgwardt Funeral and Cremation Services. Neighbors watched helplessly as smoke poured from the windows at the building at 81st and Lapham. “Sad they’ve been there a long time. Earlier in the day we saw fire coming out of the stack where they do the cremations, it was kind of unusual. We saw those flames shooting out of the stack and we’ve never seen that before,” said Denise Hummel.

The cause is still under  investigation but fire officials tell FOX6 they believe the blaze had something to do with the crematorium. “Most of the damage was in the office area on the second floor,” added Vern Pixley with Dignity Memorial.

Luckily no one was hurt, Pixley said no workers were inside at the time.  Saturday morning employees and cleanup crews returned to assess what happened. “The Borgwardt name is one that is synonymous with Milwaukee, nearly 100 years of service to the community,” said Pixley.

The funeral home has played a major role in the lives of many residents in the community, now they’re wondering how families will be affected. Hummel said, “I’m really hoping nobody was there and the families get their people back.” Pixley added, “There were three families that we were serving. The area that we were housing the individuals in was unharmed and not involved.”

The funeral home that’s dedicated to helping families during difficult times is now facing its own challenges, but despite the damage Pixley said they’ll overcome, “I anticipate us being here for many years to come.”

Service at the funeral home will not be disrupted. For now business and resources have temporarily relocated. The company has eight other locations in the Milwaukee area that are able to serve families in need.