Firefighters battle fire at vacant house near 20th & Center

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Investigators are trying to figure out why a vacant house on Milwaukee's north side went up in flames. The city owns the property.

Firefighters battled flames on the roof of a home on N. 20th Street, just of Center Street. Crews responded around 6 am on Friday November 21st, and found heavy fire on the second floor of the home.

"There were flames from the living room, from downstairs all the way upstairs, and the flames were coming out of the house, it was just bad," said Darlene Triblett. Triblett lived in the house until this past summer.

She says her nephew owned it, but in June the city acquired the property through tax foreclosure.

Triblett says she called police last week and Thursday, for what she calls suspicious activity at the home.

"I don't know if someone was coming in trying to sleep in the house, or what was going on, but it was a coincidence that one week the front door is open, the next week the window is open," said Triblett.

"The power was off and the gas was off to the building, so that is why we have our investigator, being that it is a vacant building," said MFD Battalion Chief, Brian O'Connor.

The city's Redevelopment Authority had the home listed for sale, for $5,000. Estimated repair costs were about $48,000, including electrical work and problems with the roof.

But because of the fire, city inspectors will have to determine if the property is salvageable or if it will need to be razed.
Despite the damage, Triblett is grateful it wasn't worse.

"Thank God no one was hurt, or was found dead in there," she said.