100 People Remain Displaced After Town Of Madison Fire

About 100 people remained displaced from their homes on Christmas Eve as investigators continued looking into the cause of an apartment fire in the Town of Madison.

Thirteen families, or 33 people, stayed in a hotel overnight on Friday through the American Red Cross because they had nowhere else to go. Fire officials allowed many of the displaced residents back into their units on Saturday to retrieve belongings. The fire damaged several parts of the 30-unit building located in the 2600 block of Country Rose Circle, just off of Deer Valley Road.

It’s unknown when residents would get back into their units permanently because of issues with the building’s stability, said Matthew Wright, the Town of Madison’s assistant fire chief.

“We’re hoping as soon as possible, but there’s a lot of damage there,” Wright said. “We pulled ceilings — we had to. There are burned-out floor joists, actual holes in the floor where the fire traveled through and heavy smoke damage throughout.”

Some residents who live farther from the middle of the building, where the fire broke out, might be allowed back in first, Wright said. He declined to give a timetable.

The Red Cross is helping displaced residents with food, clothing and shelter as needed, said Tom Mooney, of the organization’s Badger Chapter.

“We hear that six of the units are damaged pretty heavily or they’re a total loss, so those families will need to find alternative places to live,” Mooney said. “We’ll work with them until they can do that.”

While some were homeless for the holidays, other apartment complex residents counted their blessings that their families were OK.

“Thank God, my family is safe,” said Martin Ortega, who was one of those allowed to collect belongings from his apartment. “Everything is safe, everything is good, just a (little bit) of smoke.”

The Ortegas will stay with a family member elsewhere until they can go back to their unit, Ortega said.

Two people were taken to the hospital — one with a non-life-threatening injury and the other because of a medical emergency, according to a Town of Madison Fire Department statement.

The fire caused $375,000 in damage, of which $250,000 was to the building itself.

While the exact cause wasn’t known, the blaze wasn’t caused by careless cooking or a Christmas tree fire, Wright said.