Thirteen people were displaced after a fire damaged an assisted-living facility in Tomah. The Tomah Fire Department was dispatched shortly before 7 p.m. to Cranberry Country assisted living facility, where staff was evacuating the building upon arrival of firefighters. No injuries were reported. Tomah Fire Chief Tim Adler said there was heavy smoke throughout the building and that entry was made with a hand line to extinguish the blaze.
Adler said the fire was located inside of one of the bedrooms and that the building’s sprinkler system was activated due to the temperature of the fire. He said the fire was contained to the bedroom. The building’s owner, Krista Witt, said the fire likely was started by an electric appliance − “something somebody plugged in,” she said.
The building sustained heavy smoke and water damage, but Witt hopes to bring residents back into the rooms within a week. She said two residents are staying with family members, two more were moved to empty rooms in a part of the facility that wasn’t damaged, and others are staying in nearby assisted living centers.
She said staff members got everyone out of the building quickly and that other employees who weren’t scheduled to work dropped what they were doing to help.
“The staff worked their butts off,” Witt said. “This is the first time I realized, wow, there are some really good people who work here.”
Adler said 20 firefighters were on the scene for 2½ hours.
“The fire department was awesome,” Witt said. “The whole community stepped up. It was, ‘What can I do to help?’”
Assisting the fire department were Fort McCoy Ambulance Service and Monroe County 911 Communication Center.
Adler said the cause of the fire remains under investigation. It marked the second time in four days the department was called to a structure fire. A structure on Jefferson Street was left uninhabitable Friday after a fire started in a garage.