Green Bay apartment fire damage estimated at $500,000

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Green Bay firefighters are calling it one of the worst fires they've seen in years, causing half a million dollars in damage and displacing dozens of people. Now fire marshals are trying to determine what started it.

It took firefighters from Green Bay and neighboring communities hours to put out the spreading fire at Hamilton Gates apartments on the 100 block of S. Fisk St., near the intersection with Shawano Ave.

The fire started after 2 o'clock Thursday afternoon. The large plume of dark smoke could be seen from the east side of the city.

Fire and water damage to the 24-unit apartment building is estimated at $500,000. Officials say at least of the eight apartments are a total loss and others have plenty of damage.

The Green Bay Metro Fire Department said all of the tenants were eventually accounted for.

There were no injuries, but the heat was overwhelming for firefighters. Some were treated for symptoms of heat stroke, though there were no confirmed cases.

"Crews are getting worn out really quick so we're working on getting rehab set up for the firefighters and trying to get this thing put out as soon as we can," Lt. Shauna Wachholz, GBMFD, said.

To help with the rotation of firefighters, crews from Howard, Suamico, Bellevue, Ashwaubenon and De Pere were helping Green Bay Fire at the scene.

Wisconsin Public Service also responded to turn off power to the building.

All of the tenants in the building are affected. The American Red Cross is helping them.

Green Bay First Church, located half a block north of the fire at Fisk and Shawano, opened to provide families with food, water, shelter, clothing, and games for kids.

The effort now turns to what caused the fire.

"I know fire marshals right now are trying to look at videos that were taken early on in the scene, just to see where the fire was originally located. But this is going to be a very long investigation," said Wachholz.

The Green Bay Metro Fire Department is asking people to avoid the area.

"For right now just stay away from the complex area. There's a lot of people trying to get in to see if it's their apartment," Wachholz said. "We ask people to stay away because there's large hoses and things that could possibly hurt them and delay putting the fire out as well.