Lightning strike sparks Waukesha apartment fire, up to 100 people displaced

NOW: Lightning strike sparks Waukesha apartment fire, up to 100 people displaced

Updated: 4:41 p.m. September 16, 2019

WAUKESHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The Red Cross is planning to set up a resource center to help the residents of a Waukesha apartment. 

About 100 people were displaced by a fire that was sparked by a lightning strike. 

The organization is still working out the details but they say it will be held from 12 p.m. - 7 p.m. on Wednesday at the Elmbrook Church on Barker Road in Brookfield. 


Updated: 8:46 p.m. September 13, 2019

WAUKESHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- A fire that started with a lightning strike heavily damaged an apartment building in Waukesha. 

Three people were hurt, including a firefighter, and dozens of people are now looking for a new place to live. 

The fire started late Thursday night during a round of severe storms. Fire officials say lightning struck the roof of the apartment building. 

C.J. Wollenzien, who lived at Hillcrest Apartments, says he had just gotten home from work and was able to help eight to ten people get out of the building safely. His wife was home when the fire started. She says she's thankful to be alive, but hopes most of her valuable possessions are salvageable. 

"Our wedding pictures are in there. All that kind of stuff. You know, pictures of my dad and everything else, his grandparents. That's all stuff we want," said Robin Wollenzien.

The American Red Cross says there could be 90 to 100 people out of a home from this fire.

Nine of them made use of the Elmbrook Church shelter in the immediate aftermath.

“We had one shelter resident who was in his underwear,” said Justin Kern of the Red Cross. “We were able to get him some bathrobes and clothes, but people were leaving in that much of a hurry.”

Kern says the church shelter should be available through Saturday afternoon.

The Red Cross is working with county and state agencies to open a resource center early next week.


Posted: 5:19 a.m. September 13, 2019

WAUKESHA, Wis. (CBS 58) – One person was taken to the hospital following an overnight fire in Waukesha.

Authorities say they were called to an apartment complex near E. Main St. and Shepherd Ct. around 11:20 p.m. Tenants told emergency responders they believe lighting struck the building or another building nearby.

Once on scene, authorities cleared the building where the tenants originally called from. However, another building nearby on Shepherd Ct. had smoke and fire in the attic.

Authorities said one person was rescued from the third floor. A CBS 58 crew on scene said flames could be seen coming from the roof.

The fire was eventually put out. Fire officials say the cause of the fire remains under investigation but initial signs indicate the fire was related to the storm. 

One person was taken to the hospital. The extent of injuries is unknown.

The Red Cross is assisting the victims. Representatives say residents can go to Elmbrook Church, 777 S. Barker Road, Brookfield, for food, a place to sleep and more.

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