Early morning fire forces family of 14 onto the street


by Lane Kimble

MILWAUKEE -- Fourteen people, mostly from one Milwaukee family, consider themselves pretty lucky to all be alive Friday.  A house fire forced them out into the chilly morning air.

Fire crews responded to a duplex on 40th and Burleigh just before 5 a.m.  The battalion chief on scene says it started in the back on the outside of the home, but quickly spread into the attic.

Everyone living both upstairs and downstairs got out safely before crews arrived.  There were no pets inside. 

Firefighters got the fire under control within an hour.  It did $11,000 in damage to the building and another $5,000 to items inside.  The Red Cross responded to help the family find shelter.

The fire crew's report says the smoke alarms were working, but the family says they didn't hear any alarms going off.  In fact, one girl's cousin woke her up by frantically pounding on the door.

"She was crying, 'Get up!  Oh my god, get up!'  so I did," Chaniqua Tostoaa said.  "That's when I looked.  I opened up the back door because I thought they was banging at the back door... And I looked and there was the fire. 

I told my mom and them to get up, but they didn't believe me so i had to yell, 'Get the F up' for them to believe me...  If it weren't for them, we would probably still be up in there."

The Milwaukee Department of Neighborhood Services says this duplex just had two code violations in August.  One of those was for electrical service, but that was in the basement.  The fire department has not figured out yet if an electrical issue caused the fire.


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