1 Dead, 3 Injured in Wisconsin University Fire

A Madison Fire Department spokesman said it appears the fire started on the front porch.


MADISON, Wis. --

The Madison Fire Department has confirmed that one person died in a house fire on the UW campus early Sunday morning.

The UW and Madison Fire Departments were called to a house fire at 123 N. Bedford St. around 5:35 a.m. on Sunday.

Madison Fire Department spokesman Lori Wirth said it appears the fire started on the front porch.

"We had a passerby going past the house calling it in at 5:35 this morning with a report of flames on the front porch," said Wirth. "When our crew arrived about four minutes later, they saw rolling flames across the front of the house on a porch and rolling into the house."

Witnesses told firefighters they saw people running out of the burning house.

"When they arrived they saw several people running from the house," said Wirth. "They apparently escaped through some windows near the front of the house."

Firefighters found a man's body in the front room of the home. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Authorities are trying to determine if the man was a UW student.

"It's bad enough to lose your home and your belongings, as you can see that house was a practically a total loss, but to have a young life taken this morning is absolutely the worst," said Madison alderman Mike Verveer.

Three people escaped and were transported to UW Hospital with burn injuries, according to Wirth.

It took firefighters 20 minutes to contain the fire.

"We did do a search of the house," said Wirth. "We have it under investigation at this time."

Initial damage reports estimate the loss around $100,000.

Authorities said the fire was so hot it melted the side of the house next door.

"The fire fighters told me when they first arrived they were very freightened that the fire could spread to the adjacent houses and they quickly evacuated the adjacdent homes," said Verveer. "But that a particular concern in some of these student neighborhoods where much of the housing stock is over 100 years old, wood frame construction, very close to one another."

"This is student housing, rental housing" said Wirth. "Our understanding is that there are some people who were not home at the time, who may be arriving from out of state."

Verveer, whose district is the downtown campus area, was on the scene in the early morning hours.

"The victims from the house were being treated by the paramedics and it was one of the residents who told the paramedics, 'There's another person inside that they couldn't see,' and then the fire fighters went in and sadly found him in the living room,'" said Verveer.

"The Associate Dean of Students is at the hospital with the people who were transported," said Wirth. "I know that some family members have arrived from out of town to be with people who were transported."

"This is just an absolutely tragedy," said Verveer. "And it goes to show that student housing downtown perhaps required particular concerns precautions. I can't really put my finger on what needs to be done exactly what if anything needs to be done differently because we still don't know the official cause to the fire that occured last week and nor of course at this early stage what the cause of the fire was this morning."

A representative for the landlord was at the scene and spoke with fire officials. He told WISC-TV, "No comment."

The name of the victim has not been released by authorities.

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