Liquor store near 45th & Capitol damaged following two-alarm fire

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Crews were called to the scene of a two-alarm fire at a liquor store near 45th and Capitol early Thursday morning, January 30th.

According to officials, firefighters responded to Best Buy Liquors around 3 a.m. Upon arrival, fire crews discovered that there were several individuals inside apartments above the store.

We're told the owner of the liquor store was asleep above the liquor store at the time of the fire.

"The smoke detector. That's what woke me up -- and then the smell. At the same time, my wife called me to get out of the bedroom," Shamshersing Randhawa said.

Randhawa says he and his cousin felt their way through the dark smoke until they located a rear exit to escape his second-floor apartment.

"I don't know how did we find it, but we were at the back door. I don't know how," Randhawa said.

Meanwhile, his wife was still inside.

"The fire department people, they were here in the front, and she came through a window," Randhawa said.

"We had an extremely large amount of smoke and fire evident in the building that appeared to be growing extremely rapidly," Deputy Fire Chief Aaron Lipski said.

This prompted a second alarm.

Once inside, fire crews located flames on both the first and second floors and in the basement -- where stored items produced intense heat, which weakened the first-floor supports.

"Huge, huge potential for collapse, and as it turns out, we had to withdraw our firefighters from this building, and there was substantial collapse in the rear of the building," Lipski said.

Lipski says weather conditions were not cold enough to merit the use of the fire department's power squad, but they did warrant the deployment of an additional engine with the first alarm.

"What a fourth engine allows us is alternative and redundant means to get to a hydrant that works without a delay, and without an interruption in a firefight, and a search-and-rescue operation," Lipski said.

We're told two firefighters were injured in this incident -- but all residents were able to get out safely.

No additional details have been released -- including the cause of the fire or the amount of damage sustained.