WEST ALLIS -- A West Allis home is destroyed from a fire near 72nd and Greenfield early Saturday, December 17th. But it's what neighbors did previously that may have saved two other homes when the fire started to spread.
West Allis firefighters responded around 3:30 a.m. Saturday morning, more than five hours later they were still on scene. Hours before the sun came up, firefighters were feeling the cold and battling intense flames. It was too much for a two-story home.
"We actually could not put crews inside of it because there was too much fire," said Jay Scharfenberg, West Allis Fire Department.
Jay Scharfenberg and his responders worked to contain the fire but the assistant chief says in areas like 72nd and Greenfield, it's easier for fire to spread.
"One of the challenges we have in these neighborhoods is the homes are very close together so once there is a lot of fire in home, the home next door is only five or six feet away," said Scharfenberg.
Two more homes caught fire but quick work by crews prevented significant loss.
In total, 11 people have been displaced including a family of eight -- but something neighbors had done prior to Saturday, may have also helped save homes.
"We were very fortunate at this fire that our crews were able to hit fire hydrants right away," said Scharfenberg.
After a week of heavy snow, Scharfenberg says the nearest hydrants were already dug out.
"But sometimes when they are covered in snow it makes it a much bigger challenge," said Scharfenberg.
Had responders needed to clear a hydrant, they would have lost precious moments as fire in one home was spreading to two more.
With more snow on the way the West Allis Fire Department says please be mindful of the hydrants on your block and if you haven't, dig them out.