2-family home suffers nearly $150K in damage after errant fireworks sparked fire

RACINE -- A two-family home in Racine suffered nearly $150,000 in damage following a fire Sunday night, July 7. Officials said it was caused by errant fireworks that ignited household goods on the second-floor balcony.

According to officials, the Racine Fire Department was dispatched shortly after 9:30 p.m. Sunday to a fire at a two-family home near 9th Street and Parker Avenue. Bystanders saw fire on the second-story balcony and immediately called 911.

Prior to fire department arrival, a man, 37, kicked in the door at the porch on the first floor and climbed the stairs to the second floor. He kicked that door in, and said he encountered heavy smoke and could see a couch burning on the wall by the balcony. He was unable to enter the apartment due to the smoke and heat.

Fire officials noted "it is reasonable to believe that if the good Samaritan saw or heard the upper tenant in peril, he would have attempted to rescue her, which likely would have resulted in fatality number two."

The good Samaritan was evaluated at the scene by Racine Fire Department paramedics, and subsequently declined treatment or transport. His daughter called 911 to report the fire.

It turned out that the woman, 55, who lived in the second-floor apartment and the woman, 55, who lived in the lower apartment were not home at the time.

As the fire grew, the whole balcony became engulfed in flames, and fire traveled into the attic. The fire was so intense, it caused a living room window to break, and fire then entered the living room.

Fire officials noted "even with a working smoke alarm, it is reasonable to believe that this intense fire entered the apartment so fast that the apartment quickly became an unsurvivable environment and likely would have resulted in a fatality."

Fire officials said this incident served as an example of why any fireworks that leave the ground or explode are illegal in Racine -- and why you should never enter a burning building.

Damage was estimated at $120,000 to the structure. Smoke and fire damaged the entire second floor. The first floor and basement sustained water damage from the extinguishing efforts. Estimated damage to contents inside was approximately $30,000.