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“Sadness, disappointment” over fire at Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity home

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- There's heartbreak over a fire that destroyed a Habitat for Humanity home that was under construction. The fire broke out early Saturday, October 4th at the home on 38th and Lloyd on Milwaukee's north side.

"Sadness, disappointment, you know, a lot of hard work that went into it," said Michael Cockroft, construction director for Habitat for Humanity.

Fire investigators say a car reportedly parked within feet of the home somehow caught fire. Cell phone video captured by a neighbor minutes later shows fire personnel spraying the home as the flames spread throughout the structure.

Deputy Chief Aaron Lipski of the Milwaukee Fire Department says no one from the department was hurt -- and while the home was unoccupied, a family of two adults and five children was scheduled to move in before the holidays.

"We're talking about a family here, that now  is not going to have a home to move into. And all the good efforts of the folks at Habitat for Humanity, now the rehab project, all the work they put into this house. That's all gone up in smoke now," said Lipski.

Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity executive director Brian Sonderman says the home had been built up during the past ten months. But at this point, be believes what's left will need to be demolished.

"It's distressing for us, as an organization, but, more so, my heart goes out, you know, to the people on this block," said Sonderman. "If there's a sense that this was done, you know, at some level -- whether it was carelessness or on-purpose, there's anger."

Fire officials estimate the damage to be around $90,000.

Since 2013, Milwaukee Habitat has focused its efforts in the Washington Park neighborhood -- and the rehab was located between two Habitat homes on the block.  The house to the south of the rehab does not appear to have been damaged, but the organization did find some exterior damage to the house on the north, which is still under construction.  Although repairs will be needed, Habitat does not believe it will impact that partner family’s timeline to move into their new home.

Milwaukee Habitat is working with the partner family that was set to move into the rehabbed house to determine how to move forward so that they have a safe, decent place to call home in the new year.

If you would like to contribute to helping Habitat to rebuild a home for this displaced partner family, you're encouraged to visit milwaukeehabitat.org, or contact Karen Von Rueden, Director of Development & Marketing, at 414-562-6100 ext 5609 to make a donation.

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