Family of five escapes fire in downtown Clintonville

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UPDATE: The fire has been ruled accidental. We’re updating the report at http://wbay.com/2016/11/24/investigators-clintonville-fire-was-accidental/

CLINTONVILLE, Wis. (WBAY) – A family of five living in an apartment above a restaurant in downtown Clintonville were able to safely escape a fire early Wednesday morning.

Smoke billowed out of the two-story building housing China King restaurant and an upstairs apartment on Main Street.

Crews from several towns battled the fire at 2:30 in the morning. A ladder truck attacked the fire from above.

Clintonville Assistant Fire Chief Todd Prellwitz tells Action 2 News a large portion of the roof has collapsed. Crews tried to fight the blaze from inside, but they were overcome by the heat.

“A family of five had already been evacuated so there was nobody inside at the time,” said Clintonville Assistant Fire Chief Todd Prellwitz. “Upon our arrival the building had heavy smoke coming from basically the front and rear of the building. We tried to do a couple interior attacks, but the heat was just too much and had to turn back to a defensive attack here.

“Right now we have about 80 percent of the roof that’s collapsed on the structure. So we’re trying to work on some hot spots right now. For the most part the fire is under control.”

The cause of the fire is under investigation. Crews will have to wait until the building is safe before they can go inside and begin the process of finding where the fire started.

It’s the second fire in downtown Clintonville in about a month.

“It’s difficult,” Prellwitz said. “It’s a smaller community, and you certainly don’t want to see anybody lose a business to a fire. And to have one across the street from one another is pretty rare.”

Two families are affected by this fire. The owners of China King lost their business, and a family of five who owned the building lived above the restaurant and are now homeless.

Prellwitz says the family had working smoke detectors in the apartment.

The American Red Cross is providing them with emergency lodging and supplies, and the Clintonville community is also coming together to support them.

“it’s a small community, and when there’s a need we help our neighbors,” Joanna Davies said.

The owner of Landmark Hotel shared the news on Facebook about the family and now supplies are pouring in.

“They need the basic needs that we all need on a daily basis, so the little bit that we all can do means a lot to the family,” Davies said.

The building next door to China King, B&H Footwear, had some smoke damage. Sue Aschliman said, “We were still able to open our doors, thank God.”

Donny Mitchell from Mitchell Interiors says a fire like this impacts the entire community, but he knows it’s a challenge they can handle.

“We’ll bounce back,” he said.

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