Fire devastates Appleton restaurant owners, apartment tenants

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APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - A fire in downtown Appleton has devastated owners of a restaurant and people who lived in apartments above it.

The Appleton Fire Department was still on scene 12 hours after the fire started in the two-story building at N. Appleton St. and W. Washington St. A portion of the area is closed to traffic due to concerns about the structural integrity of the building, the city says. The roof of the building collapsed, and there are concerns about walls collapsing. CLICK HEREto read more about road closures.

The fire call came in at 2:15 a.m. Firefighters arrived to find flames shooting from the building.

Everyone was able to escape without injury. However, the building that housed Author's Kitchen and Bar and four apartments was destroyed.

"We did locate fire in the kitchen area and as we continued into our investigation we were finding fire on the second floor and the first floor. As it progressed we found fire that was in the walls and it had spread to the attic," says Battalion Chief Ethan Kroll.

It was a dangerous situation for firefighters, so they backed out of the building and started attacking the fire from the outside.

"We knew that we had all the people out. At that point we went into defensive operations, starting setting up aerial master stream devices to get water in on the building, that's always a complicated challenge," Kroll said.

Firefighters were also concerned about the building next door and its shared wall.

Jan Kodis owns that building. She says the firewall held up and the firefighters did a phenomenal job limiting the spread of damage to her building.

"There wasn't any water damage to the first or second floor, that I could see," Kodis says. "A lot of smoke obviously, and the basement, like I said has about two or three feet of standing water."

Firefighters say it's too early to determine where the fire started and how it started. Due to the size of the fire and the amount of damage, the State Fire Marshal's Office sent investigators.

The American Red Cross is helping the people who lost their homes.

"No one was hurt, everybody's alive, and that was the most important thing," Kodis says.

The owners of Author's Kitchen and Bar posted this message on Facebook:

Matias + Josh"