Milwaukee home collapses after explosion, fire - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Milwaukee home collapses after explosion, fire

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A north side Milwaukee home was reduced to charred rubble after an explosion and fire early Wednesday morning.

The inferno near North 24th Street and West Concordia Avenue was captured on video by neighbors who feared their homes and garages would also be licked by flames.

"You could feel the heat on my back window -- in my bedroom," said neighbor Keyjuana Wyatt, who let out a scream when the home behind hers collapsed into a fiery heap.

Wyatt and her neighbors told firefighters they heard and felt an explosion around 3:45 a.m.

"I mean, it almost felt like something fell on the house," she recalled. "It was the biggest boom I’ve heard ever."

"The closest I can liken it to is a bomb going off in the military," added Rell Grayas, an army veteran who lives two doors away. "Like I said, it shook my bed."

Soon after the explosion, flames were seen shooting 75 feet into the air with the entire home engulfed in flames. Firefighters on the scene within two minutes said they found evidence of an explosion.

"Well we got here and the house was listing to the left about five or six degrees, which is incredibly unusual," said Milwaukee Fire Department battalion chief Dan Lipski. "And what I saw is a house that had shifted off its foundation and some of the basement blocks had been blown out."

Firefighters said one of the biggest challenges in fighting this fire was the fact that the roof collapsed on top of the debris pile. The roof was still doing its job, wicking water away from the pile and making it difficult for firefighters to reach the hot spots buried deep underneath. Firefighters said the home was under renovation at the time so no one was home and no one was hurt. Once extinguished, crews immediately began getting rid of the charred debris as neighbors looked on in disbelief.

"At the end of the day this is bad for the neighborhood and because like I said, people was really trying to fix things up around here,” said Grayas.

While the official cause of the fire wasn't immediately known, fire investigators said it may not have been a gas leak. Firefighters said gas service to the structure had already been shut off by the time they arrived, an unusual fact given the ferocity of the explosion and ensuing flames.

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