Crews battle tough building fire downtown - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Crews battle tough building fire downtown


LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - Firefighters from La Crosse and Onalaska battled most of Saturday to put out a fire that proved tough to put out.

Crews were called to 423 Jay Street around 930am.  They quickly blocked off several streets around the building and began to start to extinguish the fire.

La Crosse's Assistant Fire Chief Warren Thomas said the fire spread throughout the attic area.  The building's first floor also has extensive smoke and water damage.  Part of the building was demolished Saturday afternoon after the roof collapsed.

Firefighters also had to cut into neighboring buildings' roofs and sprayed water on them to keep the fire from spreading.  The former Optical Fashions building suffered smoke and water damage.

So far, no injuries were reported among firefighters or any of the building's tenants, who were able to safely evacuate their apartments on the top floor.

There's been no word yet on what might have caused the fire.

We will bring you updates to this continuing story, online and on our Sunday 10pm Report.


LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW)-- The La Crosse Fire Department continues to work to put out an attic fire at the 126 5th Ave. South building downtown La Crosse.

Crews were called to the scene around 9:30 Saturday morning and had block of Jay Street between 4th and 5th Streets.

Both the La Crosse Fire Department and Onalaska Fire Department are on the scene.

The department says there were able to make sure everyone was out of the building and no injuries have been reported.

The department says the fire is spreading north to south  in the attic space, yet is contained in this one building.

One neighboring building has serve water and smoke damage.

Tri-State Ambulance is also on the scene to help cool firefighters.

Crews say high temperatures and the heat of the blaze are a concern for some firefighters.

News 19 has a crew on the scene and reporter Pete Zervakis says he talked to firefighter, Franco Garritano, who has worked this job for six years and said it is the biggest fire he has ever seen.

The fire department is also cutting into the roofs of neighboring buildings and spraying water to keep the fire from spreading.

All of the La Crosse Fire Department units are at the scene and the department has called for backup with the fire and to backfill stations.

Hooters restaurant has also provided a complimentary lunch for the crews working on the fire.

News 19 remains on the scene and will have more updates as the story develops. 

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