‘Smelled something:’ Neighbors walk into fire station to report deadly blaze at apartment building

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MILWAUKEE -- A 52-year-old man died in a fire near 56th and Oklahoma Wednesday, Aug. 15 -- and witnesses walked into the fire station to report heavy smoke in this case. The apartment building is next door, so when neighbors saw the smoke, they walked over for help.

Justin Slinker and Brad Zimmerman

It happened just before 4 p.m.

"I was just in my room, playing some video games. Smelled the smell," said Justin Slinker.

"I smelled something. I looked out the window and there was smoke coming from that building over there," said Brad Zimmerman.

From the apartment building, witnesses said the smoke billowed out of a window across the courtyard.

"The glass was all broken out -- smoke coming out of the roof," said Slinker.

Instead of calling 911, Slinker and Zimmerman ran next door.

"The fire department is actually right by that building. It's like a 10-second walk," said Zimmerman.

Inside, they alerted crews to the fire, feet away.

"They came in the building, pulled the alarm and started blasting water," said Slinker.

For at least two hours, residents were left waiting at the curb as crews made a tragic discovery. Investigators said the person inside the unit that was on fire died. Officials said the flames were contained to that unit.

It appears the fire started in a bedroom of the apartment.

Slinker said he didn't hear a smoke alarm.

"We heard nothing. It was dead silent. They said we saved pretty much the whole building right here, so that's good," said Slinker.


The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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