Investigators ask for public’s pictures, videos of massive fire

Cost of damage from blaze not yet calculated; No one was injured

An estimate of damage caused by east Madison building fire was not yet available Saturday but the fire remained in control as firefighters remained at the scene overnight, officials said.

Madison Fire Department spokeswoman Lori Wirth said crews had stayed watch overnight to battle hot spots at the site where an apartment building under construction on Apollo Way caught fire Friday night.

The fire was initially reported by drivers on Interstate 90 who saw smoke and flames at about 7:30 p.m., Wirth said.

Firefighters en route to the site saw smoke and flames come from the back side of the building on the third and fourth floors from a half mile away, according to a release.

Heat from the fire caused fire crews to move back from the building, as heat was melting plastic on the fire engine and breaking window glass.

“Because the building was under construction with no occupants … crews adopted a defensive strategy to protect the occupied dwellings,” Wirth said.

Heat from the fire caused damage to houses nearby, melting siding and cracking windows. Firefighters hosed the buildings with water to cool them and prevent structural damage, according to the fire department.

The blaze was visible from miles away and falling debris caused spot fires across the interstate. The 911 center continued to receive reports of intense heat, heavy smoke, falling debris and grass fires along the interstate and areas of the east side up to an hour after the initial call.

Crews had the fire under control by 9:37 p.m. but remained on Apollo Way to maintain control. Pallets of building materials across the estimated two-acre fire continued to smolder Saturday, fire officials said.

Eleven Madison fire crews responded to the fire. Two crews stayed at the site overnight and were relieved by another crew Saturday morning.

The building is owned by FMI Development. In a statement, Dan Schmidt, a manager at FMI, said the group is thankful no one was injured in the blaze.

“We are obviously disappointed,” Schmidt said. “But (we) are thankful for the great support we have already received.”

He said FMI plans to rebuild.

Wirth said the cause of the fire remains under investigation. Fire investigators are working with police and investigators from the State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a common practice at large fire scene. Damages have not yet been calculated.

Wirth said fire investigators were interested in photos or videos from the public that were taken of the fire scene before crews arrived Friday. Anyone with relevant media can call 608-266-4420. The department said it also planned a website where the public could submit photos or video.

Many News 3 viewers shared images of the flames and smoke, which could be seen from downtown Madison.