BAYSIDE -- A massive fire tore through the While Oaks apartment complex in Bayside on Saturday, March 30. Dozens of people are without a home as firefighters work to determine a cause. Residents are left wondering when and if they'll be able to get back inside.
"We saw it spreading like wildfire," said Veena Attivilli, resident.
Firefighters were called to the scene off Port Washington Road, around 12:15 a.m. As the building burned, it quickly spread through three floors, to the attic, and collapsed the roof.
"I've never pictured this," said Attivilli. "I never pictured an entire building would go up in flames in 15 minutes."
Firefighters worked to safely evacuate everyone inside.
"That's our plan and that's our goal, to save lives," said North Shore Fire Department Chief Robert Whitaker.
Officials rescued upwards of 20 people from balconies.
"We're just grateful no one was injured in this whole event," said Lt. Eric Miller, Bayside Police Department.
Daylight showed the extensive damage as firefighters worked to salvage items.
"It's just been a whirlwind," said Joni Vasos, resident.
Joni Vasos came back for her purse and passport.
"They carried out my whole secretary because it had all of my identification and papers," said Vasos.
Vasos is grateful for the help of loved ones and strangers, making sure people like her will be alright.
Two residents and a firefighter were treated for minor injuries and are expected to be OK. Chief Whitaker says this is not a suspicious fire. While there is no exact cause determined, it looks like it may have been electrical in nature.
Saturday evening, Bayside police thanked those who helped at the scene.
"The Bayside Police Department would like to thank everyone for their efforts and support during the structure fire at White Oaks Apartments. Big shout out to North Shore Fire/Rescue for your search and recovery efforts and hard work at putting the fire out. Also, thank you to all the assisting Fire Departments around the area and the North Shore Police Departments and Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Officers that assisted in traffic control- we all worked as a team and, consequently, prevented any fatalities.
Thank you to American Redcross Volunteers for helping with housing, feeding, etc. to the victims of the fire. Thank you Sobelman's NorthShore, Starbucks, Sendik's, and everyone else who has supported the victims. You all have been the unseen heroes- your contributions and efforts have not gone unnoticed. If anyone else would like to help, we recommend donating to American Red Cross, who will appropriately use the donations for various needs. Thank you, again."