Northside House Fire Kills Three Overnight
Seven people have died in house fires in Milwaukee so far this year.
In the hours after three people were killed in an early-morning house fire Wednesday, Milwaukee firefighters went door to door checking in with neighbors to see if they had working smoke detectors.
Three men — an 83-year-old, 57-year-old and 53-year-old — died when a fire swept through the home near North 33rd Street and West Fairmount Avenue before dawn. Milwaukee Fire Chief Aaron Lipski said there was a smoke detector in the house, but it did not appear to have been working. While the three people killed have not yet been identified by the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner, Lipski said he believes the older man was the father of the two younger victims.
With their deaths, the number of fire fatalities in the city rose to seven for 2023, half the total of 14 for the entire year in 2021. Last year, 17 people died in by fire in the city.
Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson called Wednesday’s deaths a “devastating loss.” He called on the community to make sure they have working smoke detectors.
“It’s extremely important for us to note that when something like this happens, that the fire department does what it routinely does to make sure that people around this community know about the importance of having working smoke detectors in their homes,” Johnson said.
A 2021 report from the National Fire Protection Association found that almost three out of five home fire deaths were caused by fires in properties with no smoke alarms or smoke alarms that were not working.
“The risk of dying in reported home structure fires is 55 percent lower in homes with working smoke alarms than in homes with no alarms or none that worked,” the report said.
Lipski said firefighters arrived at the home Wednesday within three minutes after they received “numerous reports” of the house on fire at about 4:30 a.m.
“They were informed pretty early on that there was likely people inside this home,” Lipski said. “There was an immense amount of fire.”
The fire department located one smoke alarm in the home, but it wasn’t working. A total of 62 firefighters were on the scene working to put out the flames, according to Lipski.
“No firefighters on this scene heard the sound of a smoke alarm sounding at any point in our operations here,” Lipski said. “That’s critically important because that smoke alarm can really, really provide an early alert for people.”
Investigators will now work to determine the cause of the fire.
“I have no indication whatsoever that there’s anything suspicious at this point,” Lipski said.
Recent data from the U.S. Fire Administration showed 18 people have died so far from home fires in Wisconsin so far this year.
Residents of Milwaukee in need of a smoke detector can call the city at 414-286-8980 for a free installation.
Milwaukee house fire kills three overnight was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.