NOTE: Listen to the entire segment from WBEV’s Community Comment here:
5/15/17 – The Beaver Dam firefighters and police officers who responded to the most recent fire at the Lakecrest Apartments will be recognized by the common council tonight. Fifteen people were injured just after midnight on April 11 in a fire at the two-story, 24-unit complex on Lakecrest Drive. Police officers are typically the first to respond to the scene of a fire because they are already out on the road. Police Sgt. Erik Smedema discussed the departments role in the response with us recently on WBEV’s Community Comment. He says the fire originated on the second floor where officers scrambled to help trapped residents trying to get out through windows, many of them were jumping.
Officer Kevin Hall answered the call when officers found a woman and a baby passed out in the hallway. Hall says there was thick black smoke and he could not see more than a foot in front of his face. When the woman and infant were located, Hall handed the baby off to officers Ryan Borchardt and Michael Kuehn. When the woman was dragged out of the complex, she was not breathing but, with the help of the officers on scene, eventually caught her breath. Smedema says they saved that woman’s life because if they did not go in she and the baby probably would have died.
Fire crews arrived to find heavy smoke coming from the second floor and made several ladder rescues. The fire was confined to one apartment, however there was a considerable smoke damage throughout the building, which is considered uninhabitable; there were 24 families displaced. The department followed mass casualty protocols with 15 people treated in a triage area, of which seven were transported to Beaver Dam Hospital. Also, one firefighter was bitten by a dog; one of three dogs he had rescued. Hall says the police and fire departments have a great working relationship and he is thankful to be in a community with a full-time department with supplemental paid-on-call firefighters on standby at all times.
Beaver Dam Police Chief John Kreuziger says he is proud of all the personnel who worked as a team that night. The “Outstanding Call Recognition” will be presented at tonight’s city council meeting to the police and fire personnel who responded to the scene. There was another fire at the Lakecrest Apartments in March but officials say the two do not appear to be connected. The cause of both remains under investigation by the Beaver Dam police and fire departments and the State Fire Marshalls Office.