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RACINE, Wis. — A house fire early Sunday morning took one life, but firefighters with the Racine Fire Department saved two lives at a residence at 1833 Woodland Ave.

The fire began in the basement of a single-story, single-family home just before 4 a.m. Smoke alarms alerted the husband and wife on the first floor, giving them enough time to evacuate the house.

“At 4:10 a.m. this morning, Racine Fire Department was dispatched to a house fire with reports of people still in the home,” said Captain Craig Ford, a spokesperson for the Racine Fire Department. “Despite 8-plus inches of fresh snow, Engine 6 arrived first on-scene in under four minutes.”

Fire personnel transported the elderly couple to the Ascension-All Saints Racine Emergency Room. Both in their seventies, the husband and wife were outside when firefighters arrived. The husband is in stable condition and is expected to be discharged later today. At the same time, his wife has been transported to Ascension-Columbia St. Mary’s Regional Burn Center in Milwaukee for treatment of smoke inhalation.

“Despite high heat and zero visibility conditions inside, the third resident, a 74-year-old male, was found alive but unresponsive inside the rear of the house,” Ford said. “Firefighters from Quint 4 and Paramedics from MED 1 found and rescued the patient outside and then carried him a few houses down to where the rescue squad was waiting.”

Cause of Racine house fire unknown at this time

Unfortunately, the patient succumbed to his injuries a short time later. The exact cause of the fire remains under investigation, but initial evidence indicates that it is not the result of foul play. The name of the patient is being withheld pending notification of their family.

The Racine Police assisted at the scene, the hospital and with the investigation. We Energies secured utilities, while Racine Fire Bells responded just after 5 a.m. to support first responders. Initial damage assessment puts the total loss of the structure at $71,000 and the loss of contents at $30,000.

“The Racine Fire Department reminds everyone to test their smoke alarms regularly,” said the spokesperson. “This tragedy is a reminder of the importance of having working smoke alarms in every home.”

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Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.