Firefighters battle blaze, freezing conditions at home on Milwaukee’s north side

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Eleven adults and six children are without a home after an early morning house fire Monday, January 5th.

Firefighters battled flames and bitterly cold temperatures as they worked to put out the fire near 1st and Clarke on Milwaukee's north side. When fire crews arrived on scene just before 4:00 a.m., they had to call for extra units due to the sub-zero temperatures.

“I got on scene, called for extra units to help due to the bitter cold and the road conditions," Milwaukee Fire Department Battalion Chief Dewayne Smoots said.

Nine fire units, a specialty unit and a medical unit responded to the scene.

While battling the blaze, firefighters had to rotate in an attempt to stay warm. Chief Smoots says the temperatures also caused some problems with their equipment.

"We had a couple of lines burst from the cold and stuff. It takes a little longer, but we were able to endure it and serve the people of Milwaukee," Chief Smoots said.

Patrick Davis was one of the residents forced out of his apartment.

"I started smelling like, smoke and I looked out the window and I looked up and saw a cloud of smoke, like a cloud of smoke coming. And I'm like, 'Oh my God, it's a fire -- and it's coming from this house,'" said Davis.

Davis says he immediately called 911 -- and began trying to wake others in the apartment complex.

"I knocked on everybody's door and nobody responded. So that's when the fire people came and got everybody to safety," said Davis.

Fire officials say one child suffered first-degree burns. That child was taken to the hospital for treatment.

Red Cross officials took those who were displaced by this fire to the Red Cross' chapter building to escape the cold.

"They were woken up from the fire and ran outside -- some without clothing, some without shoes. We had a gentleman walking in two different pairs of shoes because he grabbed what he could find," said Natalie Czarkowski, Red Cross Disaster Program Specialist.

The cause of the fire is unknown and remains under investigation.

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