**Updated 2:40 p.m. April 14
A fire that destroyed at least the third floor of a Taylor Avenue apartment building Sunday has claimed the life of a 31-year-old resident of the building.
Early scanner reports indicated a man may have died, but on Monday morning, Racine Fire Department Lt. Mark Polzin told The Journal Times that 31-year-old Thomas Grissom was in critical condition at Wheaton Franciscan St. Mary’s.
Grissom died around 1:30 Monday afternoon.
Polzin said Grissom was found on the third floor where the fire is believed to have started, and he was unresponsive during treatment at the scene.
The blaze was reported shortly before 3 p.m. Sunday by Nick Kangas. He was raking leaves in his grandfather’s yard nearby.
“I was helping my grandfather and smelled smoke. When I looked up, there was thick smoke pouring across the street so I called 911,” he said.
One victim was reportedly removed from the scene, according to our friends at Racine Uncovered.
Another neighbor – Christine Neuendorf – said she never actually saw flames, but the smoke was very thick.
“We thought it got very foggy very fast,” she said. “But then we saw the smoke coming from the chimney and realized there was a fire.”
Another resident of the building – said to contain four units – was led into the building by an RFD battalion chief, but exited a few minutes later without any of his belongings. He did not want to answer questions.
The cause of the fire is under investigation. Streets in the area – including Taylor Avenue – were shut down for several hours while firefighters worked to extinguish the flames and prevent them from spreading.
We will update this story when we have more information.
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