Investigation And Cleanup Continues At Site Of Richland Center Fire

A fire at a downtown Richland Center apartment building Friday night resulted in no injuries but has left 14 people without a home.

Richland Center Fire Chief Robert Bindel said members of his volunteer department were called to the scene just after 4 p.m. after a passer-by saw smoke and called 911.

The fire was in the roof of a building at 101 S. Church Street, which is also the home to Papa’s Donuts.

This weekend the cleanup continues for tenants like James Tulley, who lived in the century-old building.

He first saw the flames from a distance and knew immediately that his life was about to change.

“I was just coming home from work,” said Tulley. “And I seen the six foot flames coming from the top of the building. I was worried about my stuff and if there was anybody up there, anybody got hurt.”

“The apartment I’m in, was in, the floor had over like 8 inches of water on it, the ceilings were all falling down,” continued Tulley. “Everything was damaged, water damage.”

Tulley is staying with a friend for now, possibly for a long while.

The building’s owner said no one’s getting back in soon.

“It’s going to be a while,” said Genevieve Atkinson. “I can’t even imagine. I don’t want to guess, but it’s going to be a while.”

Atkinson said an electrical shortage caught the third-floor boiler on fire and flames quickly spread to the roof.

While the fire was unquestionably devastating, at least the fire department was very close by.

In fact, it’s housed just down the street, a reality that allowed firefighters to put out the flames quickly.

But water damage meant plenty of valuable and priceless possessions had to be thrown out.

But again, the outcome could have been worse.

“Nobody got hurt, and that’s the most important thing,” said Atkinson.

A number of UW-Richland Center students were staying in the top floor apartments.

While their units and the Papa?s Donuts business downstairs suffered damage, the fire fortunately did not spread to nearby businesses.