Two families homeless after house fire in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Two families are left without a place to live this on New Year's Eve, after an early morning house fire near 8th Street and W. Messmer Street. The Milwaukee Fire Department said there were no injuries. Authorities said no one was inside at the time of the fire.

“This one here was really cooking this morning. The roof was cooking pretty good. A lot of flames coming out of the house itself,” said David Rodriguez, a neighbor who saw the fire.

The call came in around 6:30 am.  Battalion Chief Ray Groth explained that it took crews awhile to get there, because the wrong address was originally given.

“There were still calls of smoke in the area so they drove around and they discovered this property here, with fire already coming through the roof,” said Chief Groth.

Once they got there, he said flames were already coming from the roof, and continued to grow as they fought it.

“Due to the fact that the majority of the fire was in the loft with no access up there, the fire continued to grow and spread as you can see,” said Chief Groth.

Chief Groth explained they started tackling the fire from the inside, but at one point had to change tactics.

“We went defensive on it which means we pulled everybody out, afraid the roof might collapse and we don't want anybody to be injured, and put as much of the fire out as we could from an exterior point, and then we went in and are just finishing up the mop up activities to make sure there are no hidden fires," said Groth.

The fire department says another obstacle was the cold weather. Low temperatures meant a lot of ice for fire fighters to work around.

“We do need to be careful with our footing, especially on the exterior, to make sure we don't get any sprains, fractures, anything like that,” said Chief Groth.

But, as he explained, that’s where their training comes in. “We train in this all year round. As you are aware, the fire department doesn't take a break because it gets cold.”

Firefighters remained on the scene for a little more than three hours.  The cause of the fire is undetermined. The Red Cross was there to help those displaced by the fire.