Fire investigators are looking into a fire Thursday that damaged an assisted-living facility. The emergency call went out at 3:30 p.m. at Racine Commons, 8500 Corporate Drive, just north of Highway 20, and escalated to a second alarm for equipment and personnel. South Shore Fire Battalion Chief John Radewan said as soon as firefighters got to the scene they saw smoke and flames coming from the northeast corner of the H-shaped housing complex, which is west of Stuart Road and east of 90th Street.
“I saw heavy fire,” Radewan said. Mount Pleasant police officers already on the scene helped bystanders get all the residents out of the building without injury. Firefighters attacked the flames with streams from a ladder truck and with hoses from personnel on the ground. “The fire came from the back of the building and extended into the peak of the building, getting into the attic itself,” Radewan said. “We opened all that up and knocked it down.”
The sprinkler system kept the fire from spreading and firefighters were able to put it out within 20 minutes without injuries to the firefighters, according to Radewan. South Shore Battalion Chief Jon Keiser, who also worked the fire scene, said the placement of the sprinkler system inside the attic prevented damage and the fire could have extended without the presence of sprinklers.
“The interior rooms were only damaged by water,” Keiser said. “The fire damage was limited to the exterior of the building and the two roof spaces. It’s a very clear picture of why you put sprinklers in attics. We would have been here for 12 hours if it would have run into the attic.”
A trash container inside a garbage area appeared to be damaged by the fire, but Radewan declined to comment Thursday on any potential cause or origin of the fire. The fire is under investigation at this time,” Radewan said. Fire investigators started taking pictures and conducting their investigation of the fire within an hour of the fire being out. Caledonia firefighters assisted at the scene.