Superior Apartment Fire Forces 50 Tenants From Building, 5 Rescued

SUPERIOR, WISC. — An early morning fire at an apartment complex in Superior sent two people to the hospital and forced 50 people from the building.

It was at a third-floor window that firefighters saw smoke and flames coming from the Nottingham Apartments when they arrived a little after 1 a.m. Tuesday.

Dan Ahonen, the owner of the building, explained how he found out about the fire (My son called and said,) ”Dad, we got a fire, it’s really a fire, he said. Ok, I’m on my way.”

The owner said it was a studio apartment that burned and was rented by one man. Five other people needed to be rescued, using the ladder truck, as they couldn’t exit because of the smoke and heat.

Battalion Chief Joe Tribbey says on a secondary search of the building some people were found who had slept through the alarms.  “The fire alarms were working,” said Tribbey. “We did have some people who slept through those alarms. On our secondary search, we found two more people that had slept through in an apartment two apartments away from the fire.”

Tribbey says the fire alarm system helped alert the residents. One tenant, Valerie Sweeney, whose apartment is on the second floor, was back at the building this afternoon to retrieve a special pillow she needs because of a recent surgery.  Sweeney said, “I was sound asleep and sleeping in a lounge chair, or a recliner because of my surgery and just heard a bang, bang, bang and jumped, and they’re just yelling it’s a real fire you need to get out, get out now.”

The fire department was called back to the scene Tuesday afternoon when insulation in the wall of the burned-out room was smoking. An 8 x 10 hole was cut in the roof and the smoking insulation was doused with foam.

Smoke and water damage forced all residents of the 35 apartments in the building to find alternate housing last night. However, the owner had some good news about when they might be able to return. Ahonen said, “Hopefully by the end of the week if things go right we can get 34 of the 35 people moved back in and then one apartment is charred, so that one’s gonna be a gut job.”

The Fire Department estimates the fire resulted in about $150,000 in damage. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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