“I have nothing:” Residents say plumber was working before fire that destroyed low-income complex

Apartment fire near Church and Tower in Saukville

SAUKVILLE -- An apartment fire in Saukville on Tuesday, December 26th, has left multiple families homeless.

"This is my home for 14 years," said Amanda Church.

Neighbors embraced outside the four-unit apartment complex near Church and Tower, one day after the fire destroyed their homes.

"We had gifts wrapped and stuff and they're under the rubble. We don't know where my daughter's cat is," Church said.

Amanda Church (right) and Rebecca Rodriguez

Apartment fire near Church and Tower in Saukville

Apartment fire near Church and Tower in Saukville

Church said the smoke was so thick, she only had enough time to grab a purse and get out.

"The smoke was just coming out of the roof," said Church.

Apartment fire near Church and Tower in Saukville

Pictures posted by the Saukville Fire Department reveal the extent of the damage inside the building.

"The roof, the ceiling, it's all fallen in," said Church. "You can see into all the apartments. It's just black, black, black."

In the unit next to Church lived her daughter and 2.5-year-old grandson. Both got out safely.

Amanda Church's grandson

"My entire upstairs is gone. My walls are gone. My bedroom is gone," said Haley Church.

Haley Church

Haley Church said a contractor was working in the building around the time the fire started.

"The plumber was in the middle of the hallway playing with his blow torch -- trying to get it to work," Haley Church said.

Haley Church said she later went into the room he'd been working in.

Apartment fire near Church and Tower in Saukville

"I went into the bathroom and it was full of smoke. I looked at the hole in the wall -- it was just completely lit up like a Christmas tree," said Haley Church.

Rachel Rodriguez

The Saukville Fire Department hasn't released a cause for the fire. Residents said they couldn't find any fire extinguishers.

"I have nothing. I gotta replace everything," said Rachel Rodriguez.

Rodriguez said firefighters went back into her unit to retrieve her breast milk for her 5-month-old son.

 

"He literally has nothing to wear today. He's still in his pajamas from yesterday," said Rodriguez on Wednesday.

Rachel Rodriguez and 5-month-old son

Residents said this was a low-income building with subsidized apartments and they did not have renters insurance. The families are seeking clothing donations for a 5-month-old boy and a 2.5-year-old boy.

Please send 3T clothing or larger, and size 9 boys shoes or larger to:

Amanda, Haley and Jack Church
1008 S. Glencrest Ct.
Saukville, WI 53080

Please send 3-6 month clothing or larger to:

Laurie Van Laarhoven care of Rachel Rodriguez
5522 Hwy Q
Colgate, WI 53017