An overheated compressor used to inflate a car tire sparked a fire that destroyed a 12-unit apartment building in Holmen.
A tenant at 615 McHugh Road called 911 about 10:45 a.m. Friday when the compressor plugged into the car’s cigarette lighter caused the dash to catch fire, Holmen Area Fire Chief Paul Menches said.
Holmen police officers evacuated three or four residents inside the 12-unit building as the fire spread from the attached garage on the west end of the building to the roofline.
“And then it was a horse race,” Menches said. “It moved faster than we could keep up.”
About 25 firefighters from three agencies fought the blaze fueled by high winds for eight hours in single-digit temperatures. By nightfall, tenants in all 12 units were homeless.
“The good news is no one got hurt. With a fire that size, to have no residents and no first responders injured, that’s something,” Menches said. “But it’s unfortunate they lost everything and we’re sad about that.”
Tenants could return to the building over the weekend to retrieve items from garages, but Menches warned them to stay away from the mostly torn-down building because it’s unsafe.
La Crosse County Emergency Management provided a command vehicle for firefighters to rest and warm up, while Tri-State Ambulance paramedics monitored their vitals. Area restaurants and organizations provided food, Menches said.
“It was a team effort,” he said.
Those looking to help families displaced by the fire can drop off items during a drive Wednesday at Holmen Square, 500 N. Holmen Drive. Updates, including a list for each family, will be posted online at www.facebook.com/holmenwicares.
“They lost everything,” Holmen Police Chief Shane Collins said.
Holmen police on Tuesday will establish an account at Park Bank for financial contributions. Gift cards can be dropped off at the police department.
Photos: Firefighters battle blaze at Holmen apartment building(tncms-asset)ef28ee6c-f7d8-11e7-99f7-00163ec2aa77(/tncms-asset)