Crews arrived on the scene at 10:27 p.m. to find the fire sprinkler system had contained a kitchen fire in an apartment on Farwell St. The building was being evacuated when firefighters arrived, and the fire was out by 10:45, according to McFarland Fire and Rescue.
Smoke was cleared from the building, and the fire sprinkler was restored. Most of the building tenants were able to return to their units before midnight, but the two adjacent units were relocated for the night to allow water remediation of their units’ fire sprinkler water to occur. The apartment with the fire will be uninhabitable for some time due to fire and smoke damage.
The tenant of that apartment was able to stay with family members in McFarland. The cause of the fire is under investigation and is believed to be accidental.
Damage estimates are pending further evaluation. All building occupants were able to evacuate, and no injuries occurred during the event.
With temperatures below zero on Monday night, Madison Metro assisted by providing a transit bus to allow tenants to remain warm during the incident, while the Monona Fire Department also assisted the McFarland crews.
The cold snap can have some significant effects on fire crews as well.
“The intense cold requires us to provide warm areas for the individuals displaced and the firefighters. Firefighters’ equipment will freeze, including our breathing apparatus, and may need thawing to be used. The firefighters that put the fire out last night had their turnout gear frozen while they were wearing it,” McFarland Fire and Rescue Chief Chris Dennis said. “We will rotate crews more frequently to keep firefighters warm and prevent cold injuries such as frostbite. Additionally, when using hose lines, we have to keep water flowing to prevent freezing in the lines, leading to ice on the ground and slip hazards.”
McFarland Fire and Rescue offered the following safety message to community members after the incident:
“The fire sprinklers contained the fire quickly and initiated the fire alarm system. The fire alarm system alerted the occupants and the 911 center of the fire. Without the fire sprinklers, the fire would have been much larger, and the outcome could have been much worse.”