Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fire in Walls and Attic of Madison Union Theatre

October 8, 2012. Madison, Wisconsin.   A small fire started Monday morning at approximately 7:35 a.m. in a portion of the attic of Wisconsin Union Theater that is currently under construction.  Smoke was seen pouring out of the north side and roof of the 73-year-old theater.  Despite some problems getting to the hard-to-reach attic above the theatre, the fire was under control by 7:55am.

The Madison Fire Department firefighters were called to the scene at 7:38am and arrived three minutes later. The first crew on the scene reported a large amount of smoke coming from the side and roof of the building. A second alarm was requested to bring additional firefighters and equipment to the scene.

A fire crew entered the building and saw fire burning along the walls near the ceiling of the theater. They quickly extinguished the visible flames and began searching for access to the attic. Once an access door for the attic was located, firefighters pulled a water hose up into the attic.  They found a large fire burning in the smoke filled attic. They extinguished all visible fire and began searching for any hot spots in the walls and ceiling.

Though the main portion of the building is isolated from the theater wing, it was evacuated as a precaution.  There were no injuries to anyone working on the project.  School officials said the extent of the loss was limited because the building was already gutted for renovation and was already cleared of items like seats.  Police said the fire caused an estimated $10,000 in smoke and water damage, but the building did not suffer any structural damage.

The fire started as a result of cutting work being performed by a demolition crew. They torch cut into a section of wall that had some waxed paper content.  According to one firefighter "It started in a wall. We had a report of a worker that was doing some cutting and it got into a shaft ... from that cutting procedure that he had done... and burned up through a shaft in the wall into the attic space."

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