RACINE -- Firefighters on Thursday morning, Nov. 14 responded to the scene of a duplex fire near 10th and Racine Street in Racine. One man was taken to the burn center with serious, possibly life-threatening injuries. A second man was taken to the hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation.
"First, it was like a big flame, about six feet. And there were about two little ones flaming up here and there," said Craig Fields, next-door neighbor.
Craig Fields lives right next door. When he woke up and smelled the smoke he quickly got his family ready to evacuate.
"I said 'get everybody up. Get everybody up, get your shoes and clothes on, make sure you find hats for them and I'm gonna go downstairs and see what the problem is,'" said Fields.
Firefighters kept the fire from spreading. But due to the size of the fire -- they were unable to prevent major damage to the home itself.
"There's heavy fire damage to the basement, first floor, and second floor. It was too dangerous, too much fire to get inside. The information was that everybody was out of the building, so we attacked the fire from the outside," said Jeff Perkins, Racine Police Department Division Chief of Fire Prevention
The three men inside of the home at the time were outside by the time firefighters arrived. Two of them were taken to the hospital. One was treated for smoke inhalation -- the other had serious, life-threatening burns.
And while the fire didn't spread -- Fields is thankful his family had practiced for something like this.
"I'm glad we worked on this stuff. Practice our safe escape and know where the fire extinguishers are and know where the escapes are, and do it in a calm matter," said Fields.
The homeowner thinks the house is a total loss.
Fire officials say it is too early to know what caused the fire. However, the owner told FOX6 News he believes it was caused by electrical issues with a space heater.