WAUKESHA — The late-night fire that tore through the Hillcrest Park apartments on Shepherd Court Sept. 12 could have easily affected anyone — especially since fire officials believe the incident to be weather-related.
Natalie Schafer, one of the owners of the apartment complex, said there were several families who lost everything, but the community has come together to do what they can to help.
“Some of the 42 families have friends and other family (members) that have already started them a GoFundMe, but there wasn’t one for all 42 families,” Schafer said. Now there is. Schafer said ideally, she’s hoping the community will be able to help raise about $1,000 for each of the 42 tenants that were affected.
She added the business gave all their tenants back their full security deposits and their pro-rated rent Monday to help them get back on their feet. “We know a lot of these tenants and they’re not just tenants to us,” Schafer said. “We’re not concerned with ourselves at all.” She explained that since the state of Wisconsin does not require renter’s insurance, not all of the tenants were covered.
However, Schafer said not everything was a complete loss and residents have already been allowed back in briefly to gather some items. “It was done in phases. They were able to go in on Friday with the fire department to get medications and any valuables. They were not given a lot of time for obvious reasons,” Schafer said.
A restoration crew has been working since last Friday to make the building safe for people to enter. A temporary roof is being built, but Schafer said the building will have to be completely rebuilt. She added some residents will also be let back into the complex while accompanied by fire officials today to figure out what they want to keep.
This process is also done in phases — phase one for smaller items and phase two for larger items.
A GoFundMe for all 42 tenants can be found online at www.gofundme.com/f/waukeshaapartment-fire38-families-displaced?utm_source=customer. Cause of fire At around 11:20 p.m. Sept. 12, city police and the Fire Dispatch Center received calls regarding a structure fire at 1802 Shepherd Court, according to a Waukesha Fire Department press release.
Soon after, firefighters arrived on scene and located smoke and fire in the attic of the building. One resident was rescued from the third floor, two residents were treated on scene, one of which was sent to the hospital and a firefighter was treated for minor injuries. The cause of the fire remains under investigation, but storm activity does appear to be related to the fire.