Batteries were out of smoke detector in Neenah apartment fire

The close proximity of the police department and a fire hydrant helped with the swift fire response
Published: Mar. 7, 2023 at 5:40 AM CST
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NEENAH, Wis. (WBAY) - A 19-year-old mother and a firefighter are recovering from injuries suffered during an apartment fire in Neenah over the weekend. The police department across the street is one of several reasons fire crews were able to act quickly.

The close proximity of the police department and a fire hydrant, as well as the speed of the fire response, were all factors helping to quickly contain the fire at the Neenah Court apartment complex on Marathon Ave.

Adam Dorn, assistant fire and the fire marshal for Neenah-Menasha Fire Rescue, says the 19-year-old woman had minor burns on her hands and face and is no longer in the hospital. Her 8-month-old child wasn’t hurt but was also transported to the hospital with her.

We’re told the injured firefighter is receiving medical treatment and is expected to make a full recovery.

“They experienced high heat and low visibility, and that because of that high heat they decided to back out, and when they were backing out of the apartment, he ended up twisting his knee and injured his knee,” Dorn explained.

Dorn also says one of the smoke detectors in an affected unit wasn’t working because its batteries were out.

Dorn says it’s better the fire happened during the day instead of at night.

“If this was at night, every smoke detector counts, no matter what time of day it is, but if this was at night and more of those smoke detectors weren’t working, this fire could’ve been tragic,” Dorn said.

“In this whole Fox Valley Area were very fortunate to have 24/7 coverage for police, fire and EMS, so the citizens of Neenah have lots of emergency personnel always working,” Joe Benoit, community policing coordinator for the Neenah Police Department said.

Dorn believes the fire originated by a balcony. Investigators were unable to rule out smoke materials as a possible cause.

The American Red Cross is assisting 12 people who needed a place to stay after the fire. Officials hoped to have all of them back in the building Monday night except for the tenants of the two affected apartments.