19 displaced after fire at Waukesha apartment complex

WAUKESHA -- 19 people in Waukesha were forced from their homes after a fire at their apartment complex Saturday, April 7th.

The fire started at the apartment complex, located at 343 Coolidge Avenue around 1:00 p.m. on Saturday.  26 firefighters from all five Waukesha stations responded to the scene.  They found flames 15 feet high shooting from the attic. "(The fire) was rather stubborn. It was in the attic space, and spreading from end to end, so a lot of insulation, a lot of different nooks and crannies in the attic space," Joe Vitale with the Waukesha Fire Department said.

Fire officials said the blaze was persistent and two firefighters suffered minor injuries.  No residents were hurt, but several were worried about their pets. "I saw smoke and I just kinda fell down and was like, my cats are in there. My cat, Lucy, she's 10, so smoke could really hurt her. I was really afraid for her," Elise Graser said.

Once the fire was out, firefighters went into the building to retrieve pets.  Most of the animals survived the fire.  Neighbors tell FOX6 News one man did lose three cats in the fire.

Debra Rollins was first to notice the fire.  She and her husband ran door-to-door alerting neighbors. "We didn't hear no alarms going off, no nothing. It got really scary. I was nervous. It's like, I'm just glad I have my cat out. I got my husband out, and we got our friends out, and everybody's safe," Rollins said.

Neighbor Jonathan Campos captured on his phone video of the flames that tore through the roof, sending black smoke into the air. "I had run out with my video camera. The flames rapidly started rising and shooting through the roof," Campos said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.  It's unclear how many people who live in the 12-unit building will be able to return to their homes. We're told the Red Cross is assisting those displaced.