Written by Lauren DeWitt, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
PRAIRIE DU CHIEN, Wis. (KWWL) -
What caused a large fire that destroyed a business and damaged several other businesses in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin is still under investigation. The fire started in a Slumberland store inside the Blackhawk Junction Shopping Center just after 7 p.m. Sunday night. Officials with the Prairie du Chien Fire Department said more than 100 fire fighters from different departments in the area helped put out the fire Sunday evening into Monday morning. The smoke from the fire was so thick for a time that several nearby homes were evacuated to the Prairie Du Chien High School for the time being.
Harry Remz is the Prairie du Chien Fire Chief he said this is the largest fire Prairie du Chien has seen in a while.
"Hopefully this will be the last fire like this." Remz said Monday.
Remz said the structure of the Slumberland building made it difficult for fire fighters to extinguish the fires flames.
"It's called a blustering roof...That is probably a firefighters worse nightmare." Remz said. He said that roof doesn't show any signs that it is about to sag, it just drops, making it dangerous for fire fighters.
"It kind of just goes everywhere. So we need to make sure that we are clear from the building. Luckily, we had an aerial up top shooting down and most of it (the roof) went right inside when it did go down." Remz said.
Dan Kanis owns Nelson True Value which is also located inside the Blackhawk Junction Shopping Center. He said he was at home when he found out about the fire.
"It's the call that no store owner wants to get. It was devastating. It usually takes me about 45 minutes to get down here from where I live and it was the longest 45 minute drive I think I have ever had." Kanis said Monday.
Kanis' business was still able to open on Monday despite some smoke damage, unlike many other businesses in the strip mall.
"We were a lot more fortunate than some of our friends and other store owners in the mall who are pretty devastated today. They have a lot of water damage and a lot more significant smoke damage, but we are pretty blessed with where things are at right now." Kanis said.
He said he is grateful the work of all the firefighters Sunday evening into Monday morning.
"When the roof went down on the Slumberland building, I thought the whole mall would be a loss and they were determined to stop it with a particular fire wall and they did it...With the help of 8 other fire departments in the area. I can't speak highly enough for their efforts...They are heroes." Kanis said.
No injuries have been reported.
Officials with the Prairie du Chien Fire Department said they are grateful for the outpouring support they have received from the community while they were fighting the fire.
"We were shocked that we got that much support. We don't even know where some of these people came from. We had people just dropping off cases of water and I think that is pretty much the first time I have ever seen that kind of turn out." Remz said.
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