MILWAUKEE -- The Marcia P. Coggs Human Services Center reopened Monday, June 25th -- five days after a five-alarm fire leveled the building across the street, sending smoke and soot into the Coggs Center. Officials say there was a 50% increase in foot traffic and phone calls at the center Monday.
Beginning Wednesday, June 20th, the social services facility was closed while crews deep cleaned the building. Inside the Coggs Center, crews were hard at work cleaning, deodorizing and sanitizing surfaces, including floors.
Crews had to remove and sanitize both sides of the ceiling tiles and all surfaces and carpets inside the facility had to be steam cleaned. All air-handling filters were replaced and High-Efficiency Particulate Arresting (HEPA) filtering equipment was running throughout the building.
The Milwaukee County Maintenance and Operations Staff worked 10 to 14 hour shifts since Wednesday, in an effort to clean up the smoke and soot damage.
"Just an amazing amount of work that happened over the last several days to make sure that this place was ready to be opened," Hector Colon, Milwaukee Department of Health and Human Services director said.
It took over 150 firefighters to bring the five-alarm fire across the street under control, on a 90-plus degree day with high humidity and breezy conditions. Because of its age, the building was not equipped with a sprinkler system. A neighborhood grocery store was destroyed in the fire.
Hundreds of clients who use the Coggs Human Services Center for BadgerCare, food stamps and other programs had to be turned away while the Coggs Center was closed for cleaning.
Colon said community mental health services were not interrupted despite the closure, with some staff members calling clients from home.
Wisconsin Health Services spokeswoman Stephanie Smiley said no state benefits were impacted by the closure.