‘It’s heartbreaking’: Hartland apartment fire kills 6, community in ‘shock’ as criminal probe launched

‘It’s heartbreaking’: Hartland apartment fire kills 6, community in ‘shock’ as criminal probe launched
The blaze erupted at 5.11 am at a four-family apartment building in the 700 block of Mansfield Court in Hartland, a suburb of Milwaukee (Fox News Youtube screengrab)

WAUKESHA COUNTY, WISCONSIN: Six people have died in an apartment fire that ignited early Friday morning, October 21 in Wisconsin. The blaze erupted at 5.11 am at a four-family apartment building in the 700 block of Mansfield Court in Hartland, a suburb of Milwaukee. 

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At least 15 fire departments and nine police departments were reported to the scene, according to CBS 58. First responders were met with "a large amount of fire" as they began rescuing people from the building and its balconies. Police are handling the blaze as an "active criminal investigation."

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(Fox News screengrab)
Police and fire department crews called to the scene were met with a large amount of fire
(Fox News screengrab)

A neighbor reported that they had heard a loud boom before fire officials were called to service, according to TMJ4. Authorities had initially reported the death toll at seven, based on preliminary information but later Hartland Police Chief Torin Misko said that six people died. At a press conference on Friday, Chief Misko said, "They received reports of fire within four-family apartment building," First responders and firefighters were met with "a large amount of fire." WISN's news chopper 12 flew over the scene and noted heavy damage on the upper floor of the duplex apartment.

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“Everybody’s in shock,” village trustee Ann Wallschlager told AP. “For something like this to happen in our village, it’s very heartbreaking.”

Police are probing into how the fire started. As the investigation is in its initial stage, information about the age or identity of the victims remains unknown. "It's very early on in the investigation," said Chief Misko. It is not clear if the fatalities were in one unit or throughout the building. Chief Misko also said it is not confirmed if all six deaths were from the fire or if there may have been other factors involved. "It's under active investigation, I just don't have those details," added Chief Misko.

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Chief Misko said, "Unfortunately, this is a very active and dynamic situation, we're still learning a lot of information as we work through this." “This is a tragic incident for the community and for the first responders involved." “We ask that the community respect the privacy of the families,” Chief Misko concluded. The Hartland Police Department is being assisted by the Wisconsin Fire Marshal’s office along with the Wisconsin Crime Lab and Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department and multiple other agencies, investigating the incident.

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