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Investigators searching for cause of building fire, arson not ruled out

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee arson investigators have now been brought in to search for the cause of a three-alarm fire that gutted a vacant building on the city's south side. 

They say any time there's a fire in a vacant building, it raises eyebrows. That's why fire investigators from the Milwaukee Police Department and Milwaukee Fire Department are going to take a long hard look at how this fire started early Friday morning.

\"Most of the time they don't start on fire by themselves,\" Milwaukee Fire Department Battalion Chief DeWayne Smoots said.

Especially inside a vacant building.

\"This part right here was pretty bad in flames,\" Alexis Quinones, who lives nearby, said.

\"We heard the sirens and we looked out and we seen the flames so we came out,\" Deliacia Cascilla, who lives across the street, said.

Intense flames burned Friday morning at the former Lao Family Community Building on Milwaukee's south side.

\"With the large amount of fire, the roof started to cave in in some areas which made it hard for us to advance passed that,\" Smoots said.

Firefighters aren't sure of a cause just yet.  But they said there was no gas or electricity running to the building.

\"There's not too many other sources for fire,\" MFD Deputy Chief Aaron Lipski said.   \"We have to take that very seriously so we have our fire investigation unit here and we've requested assistance from the police arson task fore as well.\"

People living near the building say it's been vacant for a while.  They've seen people going in and out, they've also seen people vandalize it.

\"A lot of kids go in there you know and crawl through the window in the back over there,\" Quinones said.  \"I see a lot of kids, teenagers go in there.\"

\"People that we know go in there and hang out and stuff,\" Cascilla added.

Now investigators will try to figure out where and how it started.

\"Then if there was any reason why inside the building that fire would have started there,\" Smoots said.  \"If there's no real reason, then it's probably somebody helped the fire along.\"

No one was hurt in the fire.

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