Man who responded to five-alarm fire still emotional

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OCONOMOWOC -- One day after 150 firefighters battled a five-alarm fire that killed a woman in downtown Oconomowoc, investigators are still trying to determine what sparked the blaze. Officials say a 45-year-old woman was killed in the fire, and one day later, her death weighed on those who tried to save her.

Robert Snyder saw smoke billowing from a burning building near his home on Main Street in Oconomowoc on Sunday, July 1st. Snyder was working on his home, so he grabbed a ladder and rushed over to the building.

"I ran down the sidewalk with the ladder. When I got back there, the glass was broken and I handed the ladder to the guys that were there," Snyder said.

One person was pulled from the building, but Sharon Phillips died in the building -- something Snyder said still haunts him a day later.

"I just couldn`t do it. I was pulling against the ladder and I was real disappointed when I found out she passed away because I was the last one she saw. My wife tells me she backed away from the window after I went down. It's going to be tough. It's going to be awhile. I'm just an emotional mess right now," Snyder said.

Even with the tragedy, Oconomowoc Public Safety Director David Beguhn said Snyder and the others who were first to the scene were life savers.

"It was a great effort and those people should be applauded," Beguhn said.

Snyder told FOX6 News he's had a lot of people call him to express their appreciation. He says he's thinking about those who worked to save lives at the scene as well.

"Everybody was saying get away from there, it could blow up. They stayed there and held the ladder for the firemen," Snyder said.

The fire marshal has reportedly said the fire started on the outside of the building, in the back. The cause is still undetermined, and the investigation is ongoing.

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