Five-alarm fire at business in Milwaukee's Riverwest neighborhood

Click here and here for raw video from TODAY'S TMJ4's Nick Montes, and click on the photos for more of the story and our photo gallery from the fire scene which were taken by Montes, witness Matt White and Chopper 4.

  • MILWAUKEE - Milwaukee Fire Department crews spent Tuesday morning battling a five-alarm fire in Riverwest.

    The four-alarm fire was located at Joe's East Coast Car Shop, at the corner of North Pierce and East Center Streets. It began around 9:20 a.m.

    As of 11:25 a.m., no one was seriously injured due to the fire, but two firefighters were sent to a local hospital for heat exhaustion.

    "There was an automotive repair facility on the first floor of the building....a fire started. (Workers) were able to evacuate safety, but the fire rapidly took control of the first floor," said Milwaukee Fire Battalion Chief Dan Lipski.

    "We faced numerous hazards upon arrival with hydraulic fluid, oil...gasoline...caution was the word of the day."

    A witness tells TODAY'S TMJ4's Nick Montes that a number of studio apartments may have been affected.

    "I started looking up in the sky and saw thicker smoke. I hear sirens...I heard explosions...about four...it was pretty big booms," said Matt White, who told TODAY'S TMJ4's Nick Montes he lives in the neighborhood.

  • Streets were blocked off near the area, and We Energies cut off power to thousands of customers at the request of the fire department.

    Firefighters were also battling temperatures higher than 90 degrees as they fought the fire. Extra fire crews were brought on scene due to the heat. Lipski said crews worked on a 20-minute work cycle with 40-minute breaks.

    They were seen on rooftops trying to douse the flames.

    People were found covering their faces as they walked around the neighborhood.

    There was no initial word on the cause.

    Milwaukee County Transit System officials report that Route 22 has been detoured due to the fire while that fire also forced Milwaukee Public Schools to move a recreation program.

  • "My power went out. I didn't take it seriously at first. Then the smoke smell, and then I came out and found out what everyone else was finding out," said Xavier Leplae, who owns a business in Milwaukee.

    "My main concern was for artists in that building. I'm glad everyone's safe, but I'm worried how it's going to affect a bunch of galleries in there, and artists who are part of our art community...There's a lot of important art and an important part of the Milwaukee art movement in that building...they're going to be dispersed from this, I guess."

    Click on photos to see more of our photo gallery from the scene of the Riverwest fire.