Wis. Community Endures Worst Fire in Its History


A fire in downtown Cassville early Tuesday morning has destroyed three buildings, severely damaged two others and left 12 people without homes.

Cassville Fire Chief Denny Busch said it's the worst fire ever for the small community located on the Mississippi River in Grant County.

Julie Loeffelholz, of Grant County Emergency Management, said the blaze apparently started inside an apartment in one of the buildings at about 3 a.m. on Tuesday, and it spread rapidly.

"It went fast. It was an old building, with a number of roofs on top, and we couldn't get at (the fire)," Busch said.

Five fire departments were battling the fire all morning. No injuries have happened from the blaze, but a number of firefighters are battling hypothermia due to the cold temperatures.

"We used 800,000 gallons of water. We used water from the Mississippi River. We were worried about losing water pressure," Loeffelholz said.

There were eight families living on the upper floors of the buildings, and those families lost everything they own.

The American Red Cross is helping the displaced families find temporary housing.

In addition to the apartments, a number of businesses have also been destroyed in the fire, including a café in the center of town.

The village president of Cassville said the fire is a devastating event for the community, which is also dealing with flooding from the Mississippi River.

Loeffelholz said the city will have to figure out a way to pump the water used to put out the fire out of their storm sewers and into the river to make sure the city's storm sewers aren't overwhelmed.

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