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RACINE, WI – Officials with the Racine Fire Department say illegal fireworks caused a fire at a two-family home at 1810 Ninth Street.

The blaze started at 9:33 p.m. Sunday after fireworks ignited household goods on a second-floor balcony, according to a press release by Craig Ford, captain of the Racine Fire Department.

“This headline likely would be far different if occupants were home at the time of the fire,” Ford wrote. “It is not a stretch of the imagination that an alternative headline would include two fatalities resulting from this fire caused by illegal fireworks.”

Ultimately the whole balcony was engulfed in flames. Spreading to the eaves, it then traveled into the attic. A living room window broke and the fire started in the living room.

“Even with a working smoke alarm, it is reasonable to believe that this intense fire entered the apartment so fast that the apartment quickly became an unsurvivable environment and likely would have resulted in fatality number one,” Ford said.

Bystanders noticed the fire in the second story balcony and called 911. Before firefighters arrived on the scene, a man went into the home to see if someone might be trapped. He broke down two doors before turning back because of the heavy smoke and high heat, according to a press release by the Racine Fire Department.

Once on scene, rescue personnel with the Racine Fire Department evaluated the man. However, he declined further treatment or transport. No one was inside the home at the time of the fire. The tenants — Jackie Singleton and Paula Boiken — arrived on the scene later.

“In this scenario, the family of the Good Samaritan would have been outside on the fire department’s arrival saying the Good Samaritan was in this fully involved fire,” Ford said. “At the Racine Fire Department, we risk a lot to save a lot. This is a very likely scenario where firefighters would have been willing to risk a lot. This fire is an example of why any fireworks that leave the ground or explode are illegal in the City of Racine.”

The fire resulted in $120,000 in damage to Randall Rogers’ home.

Ford also reminded residents:  “Never enter a burning building. Once you’ve escaped a fire, ‘once you’re out, stay out!’”

Fire ripped through two-family home, 1 injured

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