MILWAUKEE (WITI) — The Milwaukee Fire Department was ready to give the “all clear” by 4 p.m. Tuesday, April 22nd — after a “lazy” fire was reported coming from a hole near the Milwaukee Public Market.
FOX6 News learned a construction crew was digging pilings in the area. Crews were 90 to 95 feet down when they noticed fire coming up from one of the holes. The “lazy” flame as it was called, was present about eight feet below the top of the hole.
Fire officials suspect the gas that was burning was from a pocket of natural methane, possibly swamp gas.
“We just put water on it and like I said multiple times throughout this process today, it was a very low grade, just a flickering little flame. It didn’t take much and it went out,” said Battalion Chief Dan Lipski of the Milwaukee Fire Department.
A We Energies crew was dispatched to the area — but there were no indications of a natural gas leak at or near the Public Market. In fact, the nearest gas line was roughly 40 to 50 feet from the affected area.
The Milwaukee Public Market closed for the day — and will reopen for normal operating hours on Wednesday.
“As much as I like getting off work early, I know it comes at a price. I showed up and it was just like everybody had gotten right out of there and left everything,” Amanda Huff, who works inside the Milwaukee Public Market said.
An area bordered by Clybourn, St. Paul, Broadway and Water Streets was cordoned off duing the investigation.
Officials were eventually able to escort small groups of Milwaukee Public Market workers back inside to retrieve their belongings.
“We’re supposedly gonna be able to go in and get whatever belongings we have in there,” John Aldinger said.
Fire officials say precautions were taken to ensure everyone’s safety.
“We have monitored every sewer grate. We have monitored every manhole cover and vault. We`ve been in and out of the buildings in the neighborhood. We have set up detection both in the air and subsurface and at this time we have absolutely no toxic and or flammable products being released,” Lipski said.