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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Displaced Carroll residents call university, bookstore helpful

Madison Fire Department officials said Monday a weekend fire at a downtown apartment will surpass early damage estimates, with possibly more than $500,000 in damages.

The fire at the seven-story 505 N. Carroll St. apartment complex occurred around 5 a.m. and was concentrated on the sixth floor. Thirteen MFD vehicles responded to the two-alarm blaze since the fire involved a high-rise building with high-resident occupancy.

All residents, 30 of whom are of University of Wisconsin students, exited the building safely, but the sixth floor was extensively damaged in the fire. The entire building will likely remain closed until the end of the week, according to MFD spokesperson Lori Wirth.


Wirth said the structure of the building survived a lot of potential damage due to its fire resistant construction.

Initial reports estimated damages to the building and property to be around $206,000, but that number has since more than doubled, according to Wirth.

"The damages will be mostly on the sixth floor but water, heat and smoke also affected the adjacent floors," Wirth said.

Wirth said the early reports were based on typical housing, but the student residents presented many higher priced losses.

"The initial damages are a ballpark estimate based on square footage when you start calculating what's lost," Wirth said. "Maybe it's clothing for $500, but with more people and their electronics that can jump pretty quickly with iPods and laptops."

Wirth said two MFD fire officials spent Monday sifting through large amounts of debris, searching for clues to the cause of the fire.

"Right now we're at a point where we're not ruling anything out, so the process is open-ended," Wirth said. "We don't think we'll have anything right away. Basically they'll look through whatever's left."

Residents will likely be able to return to undamaged areas of the building by the week’s end, after maintenance officials can replace smoke alarms and the building is declared safe by the MFD.

UW junior Andy Roeker lived in the sixth floor of the apartment building, but was not sleeping there when the fire occurred Saturday.

Roeker said the corner where the fire was focused was completely destroyed, and the smoke permeated into all of his belongings.

"My room is on the exact opposite end of the apartment, but everything in my room was black. For instance, my basketball tickets were in a closed dresser drawer, and they were pitch-black," Roeker said. "The few clothes we could grab we washed, but we still couldn't get them clean. I'd have to imagine everything else has to be ruined."

Roeker and the six other people living on the sixth floor are all having trouble finding a new apartment. Roeker is currently living at a hotel with funding from the Red Cross.

Dean of Students Lori Berquam and Associate Dean of Students Argyle Wade were on the scene early Saturday to comfort students and write "crisis loan checks" to cover the cost of books and other short-term necessities.

As of Monday, the 30 students affected by the fire had received $4,200 in loans, according to Associate Dean of Students Tonya Schmidt. Schmidt said students who didn't receive assistance are still eligible to apply for crisis financial help.

Berquam said crisis loans have traditionally been written for a few hundred dollars each, but there is no limit to how much students can take depending on each situation.

The University Book Store also offered students help through discounted and loan textbooks.

"We'll help, so they don't have to pay the full cost a second time around," text manager Steve Scheibel said. "They'll come in and talk about what they need, when they need it. We might give it to them for cost, half price, as a loaner — it depends on the specific case."

According to Scheibel, the bookstore also assisted students who went through a similar situation in a Mifflin Street fire two years ago.

Roeker said he was surprised with the amount of assistance the university provided and has received loaner books from the University Book Store.

"Lori has just been unbelievable. She was down there Saturday morning. She said they'd do everything they could do to make it easier," Roeker said. "The bookstore is loaning [textbooks] to us until the end of the semester. … They've just been phenomenal."

— Pedro Oliveira Jr. contributed to this report.

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